What is developmental screening?

Doctors and nurses use developmental screening to tell if the children are learning basic skills when they should, or if they might have problems. Your child’s doctor may ask you questions or talk and play with your child during an exam. This will show how the child learns, speaks, behaves, and moves.

The nurse or doctor may also ask you questions or give you a questionnaire to fill out. Developmental screening is tool to find out if your child needs to see a specialist. There is no lab or blood test to tell if your child may have a delay in his or her development.

There is a wide range of growth and behavior for each age. It may be natural for children to reach milestones earlier or later than a general trend. Your child’s doctor will let you know if a specialist is needed.

Why is developmental screening important?

When a developmental delay is not found early, children must wait to get the help they need. This can make it hard for them to learn when they start school. The sooner children get help, the better off they will be in the long term.

In the United States, 17% of children have a developmental or behavioral problem, such as autism, intellectual disability (also known as mental retardation), and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD or ADHD).

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