What is developmental screening and why is it important?

Not every delay is visible to the eye. Developmental delays and disabilities, such as autism, emotional disturbances, and speech and language disorders, often go undetected until a child enters elementary school.

Study after study has shown that the earlier a delay is recognized and intervention is begun, the better the child’s chance of substantial improvement. Developmental screening is one of the best things you can do to ensure a child’s success in school and life. (And that’s why so many organizations have made it a top priority.)

Understand the lingo of screening!
What is Developmental Screening?

Developmental screening is the practice of systematically looking for and monitoring signs that a young child may be delayed in one or more areas of development.

Screening is not meant to establish a diagnosis for the child, but rather to help professionals determine whether more in-depth assessment is the next step. In most cases, screening rules out the likelihood that further assessment is needed.

Using a high quality developmental screening tool like the Ages & Stages Questionnaires®: Third Edition (ASQ-3™), professionals can screen children for delays accurately and cost-effectively.

Who Does the Screening?

Anyone who works with infants and young children can play a key role in the early identification of developmental delays:

  • early intervention professionals
  • early childhood general and special educators
  • pediatricians and nurses
  • public health providers
  • home visitors and parent educators
  • other early childhood professionals
How Do Screening Tools Work?

Screening tools usually take the form of a series of questions or checklists used to track children’s development relative to milestones achieved by a larger group of children of the same age. A home-grown checklist won’t do; developmental screening tools must be carefully validated by research.

In the case of ASQ, parents or other caregivers answer a series of simple questions regarding their child’s abilities (Does your child climb on an object such as a chair to reach something he wants? When your child wants something, does she tell you by pointing to it?).

Children whose development appears to fall significantly below that of their peers are flagged for further attention.

Download this free developmental screening toolkit with helpful links to fact sheets, checklists, posters, and charts that will help you educate families.

Read a clear-cut explanation of screening and why it’s so critical for young children.

Accurate & Inexpensive Developmental Screening

  • 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