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Worried about Your Child’s Development? Ask Their Doctor about Developmental Screenings

By March 14, 2024 No Comments

Babies and children learn new skills all the time as they grow and develop. Parents look forward to experiencing each of their child’s new milestones, such as smiling for the first time, waving, or taking a first step. Children develop at their own pace, but some might need extra support in their growth and development. 

What Are Milestones and Is My Child on Track?

Developmental milestones are skills babies and children learn at different ages as they move, play, learn, speak and act.   

  • For a list of milestones by age, see Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Developmental Milestones English | Spanish
  • CDC also has a free Milestone Tracker app available for download (English | Spanish)

As a parent, you know your child best. You can keep an eye on how your child grows, develops, and changes over time. If you, another family member, or care provider notice they are not meeting the milestones for their age, talk to your child’s doctor and ask about developmental screening.

What Is a Developmental Screening? 

Developmental screenings should be done routinely by your child’s doctor at certain ages, to make sure they are meeting their milestonesThe screenings can also be done more frequently if your child is at risk for developmental issues due to being born early or other health conditions, or if you or the doctor has a concern

  • Development screenings can be done by health care providers, early childhood teachers or other trained providers. 
  • As part of the screening, your child may take a test or you may be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your child’s development, including their language, movement, thinking, behavior, and emotions.  
  • As a parent or caregiver, no one knows your child better than you do. Talk to your pediatrician about developmental screenings if you have any concerns. 

All children should be screened during regular well-child visits at the following ages: 

Behavioral & Developmental Screening 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Screening 

9 months 

18 months 

18 months  

24 months 

30 months 

 

To learn about how to get your child screened:  CDC’s Concerned about Development? How to Get Help for Your Child English | Spanish  

Why Is Developmental Screening Important?

As many as 1 in 6 children between the ages of 3 to 17 years old have one or more developmental or behavioral disabilities, such as a learning disorder, autism, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).1   Certain children may be at higher risk for developmental disorders including: 

  • Premature babies
  • Children born with low birth weight
  • Children exposed to toxic environmental factors (e.g. lead).

Developmental screenings help identify children with developmental delays or disabilities for further evaluation by professionals. Through proper evaluation, your child can access treatment early in life, improving their quality of life. By receiving early intervention services, your child can develop health behaviors and skills needed to reach important developmental milestones. Examples of early intervention services include:  

  • Family training, counseling, and home visits 
  • Nutrition services 
  • Physical therapy 
  • Psychological services 
  • Special instruction 
  • Speech and language services 
  • Vision services, and many more!

To learn more about early intervention:  CDC’s What is “Early Intervention”? English | Spanish 

It can be hard to figure out how to best support your child. Infants and toddlers (up to 36 months of age) with a developmental delay or disability or who have certain risk factors are eligible for early intervention services through the Early Start program in California. The Early Start Program can help with figuring out the next steps. Services are provided at low-cost to no-cost. 

To learn more about available Early Start services:  Regional Center of Orange County (RCOC): Early Intervention Services English 

Where Can I Get My Child Screened? 

If you suspect your child has developmental problems, you and your family have options to access care for your child.  

To get your child screened:  

    • Contact your child’s doctor’s office.
    • To find a health care provider, call the OC Health Care Agency Health Referral Line (HRL) at (800) 564-8448. 
    • CHOC/UCI Early Developmental Programs: Help Me Grow Orange County English | Spanish | Vietnamese 

Additional Resources 

References

1 CDC: Developmental Monitoring and Screening English | Spanish 

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