Screening of Developmental Issues

What is a developmental delay?

Skills such as smiling for the first time, waving “bye-bye” and taking the first step is called developmental milestones. Children reach milestones in crawling, learning, playing, speaking, moving, behaving, and walking. When your child does not reach these milestones at the same time as other children the same age is a developmental delay.

There are things you can do that may help if your child is not developing properly. Most of the time, a developmental problem is not something your child will “grow out of” on his or her own. But, your child could reach his or her full potential with help!

What is developmental screening?

Developmental screening use doctors and nurses to tell if children are learning basic skills when they should, or if they might have problems. Your child’s doctor may play and talk with your child or ask you questions during an exam to see how he or she speaks, moves, behaves or learns. The developmental screening will help tell if your child needs to see a specialist since there is no lab or blood test to tell if your child may have a delay.

Why is developmental screening important?

Children must wait to get the help they need if a developmental delay is not recognized early. This can make it hard for them to learn when they start school. In the United States, 15 percent of children have a behavioral or developmental disability such as intellectual disability (also known as mental retardation), autism or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

In addition, many children have delays in language or other areas, but, less than half of children with problems are identified before starting school. During this time, the child could have received help for these problems and may even have entered school more ready to learn.

If you have concerns about how your child is developing talk to your child’s doctor or nurse. If you or your doctor think there could be a problem, you can take your child to see a developmental pediatrician or other specialists, and you can contact your local early intervention agency (for children under 3) or public school (for children 3 and older) for help. It is very important to get your child help as soon as possible if there is a problem.

How can I help my child’s development?

Exercise, proper nutrition, and rest are very important for children’s development and health. Providing a loving and safe home and spending time with your child – reading, singing, playing, and even just talking – can also make a big difference in his or her development.

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