A developmental screening is a routine monitoring process used to identify any potential developmental delays in children. Early detection is a valuable tool in terms of treating health and development issues. Developmental screenings can help to identify delays in mental or physical abilities that may indicate a diagnosis of autism, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and other developmental or physical disabilities. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development at the ages of 9, 18, 24 and 30 months, or whenever a parent has a concern.
The Developmental Screening Process
Developmental monitoring and screening is most often performed by the child's pediatrician, during routine well visits or check-ups. Screenings are performed through simple questions and observations to ensure that the child is progressing at a normal rate. Standard developmental screenings include:
- Reviewing any parental concerns
- Recording a developmental history
- Observing the child's behavior and physical abilities
- Identifying risks and protective factors
Once the child is screened, the pediatrician documents the findings. If a potential developmental problem is suspected, further evaluation is often necessary. Depending on the specific concerns, the child may be referred to a pediatric neurologist, psychologist or psychiatrist for additional and more in-depth screenings and evaluation.
Early diagnosis of a developmental disorder and any underlying causes is extremely important for planning any necessary medical treatment or early intervention services. Developmental screening in children is imperative in identifying and treating early developmental conditions.