Your Quick-Guide to ASQ Screening

“We’ll be screening your child with ASQ.”

If you’re like most parents, you probably have a lot of questions when a doctor or teacher says your child will be screened. You know your child better than anyone else, and the thought of “scoring” what they can and can’t do might make you feel apprehensive—angry, even. You might wonder how a questionnaire can accurately capture all your child’s skills, and if screening might lead to a label or diagnosis. And as a busy, concerned parent, you might have practical questions too, like how long is this going to take? and what happens next?

The “Why” of Screening

What is screening, anyway?

Screening is a quick check of your child’s development. It’s happening in a wide variety of early childhood settings these days—from doctors’ offices to preschools to child care programs. Screening takes a snapshot of your child’s current skills and helps accurately identify children who may be at risk for delays.

Why is it important for my child to be screened?

Regular screening provides a fast and helpful look at how your child is doing in important areas like communication, social skills, motor skills, and problem-solving skills. Screening can identify your child’s strengths, uncover new milestones to celebrate, and reveal any areas where your child may need support. It helps you understand your child’s development and know what to look for next. And it helps you work with doctors and educators to plan next steps when it makes the most difference—your child’s critical first years of life.

Can a questionnaire really capture my child’s true skills and developmental progress?

Yes! Studies have shown that parent-completed screeners like ASQ® are very effective at pinpointing child progress. Information parents give about their children is usually highly accurate. Plus a parent-report tool like ASQ calls for your unique perspective on how your child behaves and performs skills in natural settings like your home. That means it can capture the big picture of your child’s development better than a screening that takes place in an unfamiliar setting.

Why would I want to fill out a questionnaire that highlights what my child can’t do?

The great thing about ASQ is that it’s strengths-focused—the emphasis is really on what your child can do. It’s the perfect way to keep track of milestones and celebrate them as your child grows and develops.

What if my child has a diagnosed disability? Will I still be asked to fill out an ASQ questionnaire?

As ASQ co-developer Jane Squires says: The main point of screening is to catch children who may be at risk for disabilities…If children are already diagnosed with a disability, screening is redundant.” So ideally, you won’t be asked to fill out a questionnaire if your child has been diagnosed already. However, if your state’s regulations require universal screening for all kids, talk to your healthcare or educational professional—they may need to seek clarification from the administrative office regarding the screening of children with disabilities. You may choose to fill out selected portions of the questionnaire that apply to your child, or you can decline consent for participating in screening.

Can my child’s teacher also fill out an ASQ questionnaire?

Yes, teachers or other providers who spend 15-20 hours per week with a child may also complete ASQ questionnaires. Since teachers spend so much time with your child and know them so well, their expertise and insights can be invaluable. After your child’s teacher completes a questionnaire, it’s helpful for them to share results with you and discuss any differences in skills or behaviors seen at school versus at home.

How ASQ Works

What is ASQ, exactly?

The ASQ screeners are sets of valid, reliable, and age-appropriate questionnaires that are filled out by the true expert on your child—you! There are two screeners in the ASQ family: ASQ®-3, which looks at key areas of early development, and ASQ®:SE-2, which focuses on social-emotional development.

Tell me more about ASQ-3.

ASQ-3 is a set of simple questionnaires trusted for more than 20 years to check child development. There are 21 ASQ-3 question­naires for use with children from 1 month to 5½ years old (one questionnaire for each age range). Here are the five important areas of development that each questionnaire looks at:

  1. Communication: Your child’s language skills, both what your child understands and what he or she can say.
  2. Gross Motor: How your child uses their arms and legs and other large muscles for sitting, crawling, walking, running, and other activities.
  3. Fine Motor: Your child’s hand and finger movement and coordination.
  4. Problem Solving: How your child plays with toys and solves problems.
  5. Personal-Social: Your child’s self-help skills and interactions with others.

The “Overall” section asks you open-ended questions about your child’s development and lets you weigh in with any concerns you may have.

Tell me more about ASQ:SE-2.

ASQ:SE-2 is a set of questionnaires with a deep, exclusive focus on social-emotional development. There are 9 ASQ:SE-2 question­naires for use with children from 1 month to 6 years old. Here are the seven important areas of development that each questionnaire looks at:

  1. Autonomy: Your child’s ability or willingness to self-initiate or respond without guidance (moving to independence).
  2. Compliance: Your child’s ability or willingness to conform to the direction of others and follow rules.
  3. Adaptive functioning: Your child’s success or ability to cope with bodily needs (sleeping, eating, toileting, safety).
  4. Self-regulation: Your child’s ability or willingness to calm or settle down or adjust to physiological or environmental conditions or stimulation.
  5. Affect: Your child’s ability or willingness to demonstrate their own feelings and empathy for others.
  6. Interaction: Your child’s ability or willingness to respond to or initiate social responses with parents, other adults, and peers.
  7. Social-communication: Your child’s ability or willingness to interact with others by responding to or initiating verbal or nonverbal signals to indicate interests, needs, or feelings.

The “Overall” section asks open-ended questions about your child’s social-emotional development and lets you weigh in with any concerns.

How long does an ASQ questionnaire take?

You’ll only need 10–15 minutes to fill out an ASQ-3 or ASQ:SE-2 questionnaire. It’s that quick and easy!

How does it work?

  • You’ll receive an ASQ questionnaire from your child’s healthcare provider or early childhood educator. They might send it to you in the mail, give you access to a secure website where you can fill it out, or give you the questionnaire during an in-person visit.
  • You’ll answer each question based on what your child is able to do now. Your answers help show your child’s strengths and areas where they may need practice or support.
  • After you complete the ASQ questionnaire, just return it to your child’s healthcare or education professional. They’ll score the questionnaire, share the results with you, and discuss any follow-up steps.

(Here’s a handy visual representation of how ASQ works.)

Next Steps

What happens after I get my child’s ASQ results?

If your child is developing without concerns, there won’t be specific follow-up steps—just keep playing and interacting with your child as they grow and reach new milestones. If your child has trouble with some skills, your program will help you with next steps, including a possible referral for more assessment. Whether or not there are concerns, your program might also give you some fun and easy ASQ learning activities to try with your child before the next screening.

What are the ASQ Learning Activities?

These are fun, age-appropriate activities and games you can try with your child to boost their development between screenings (and have fun with them at the same time)! Your child’s doctor or teacher might print these out or email them to you after an ASQ screening. (You can learn more about them here.)

Will my child be labeled as a result of an ASQ screening?

ASQ is a screener, not an assessment, so it can’t diagnose a disability. It can help determine if your child needs further assessment or support in one or more areas. A big benefit of ASQ is that it helps catch potential delays or issues early—so if your child does need some extra support, follow-up, or intervention, they can get it now, when it makes the most difference.

Each ASQ questionnaire you complete helps get your child off to the best possible start in life. Thanks for reading this introduction to screening—we hope it answered your questions and reduced some of your worries. If you have any other questions about screening, please explore the rest of the ASQ site, ask co-developer Jane Squires a question, or talk to your child’s healthcare or education professional.

  • Teacher and Student

    What ASQ Users are Saying

    We chose ASQ because it is easy to do, low cost, culturally sensitive, and it meets our purpose of basic screening for our children’s development. Our infant teachers base their curriculum on each individual child based on the ASQ.”

    Kathy Bostic, Program Supervisor, Pinehurst Child Care Center