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Understanding how young children grow and develop, called early childhood development, is very helpful to parents and child care providers. Children develop in stages based on their age, but there is no exact or right age for each stage. One child can start walking at nine months and another child at 12 months.
What is a development screening?
It is a good idea to keep an eye on your child’s development. You can do this with a development screening. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that all children have regular screenings as part of their health care. Parents might also want a screening when they have concerns that their child is not meeting a developmental milestone.
A screening does not give a diagnosis for your child, but helps professionals decide if a more in-depth assessment is the next step. Most of the time, the screening says everything is fine! But if there is a problem, the earlier you identify a delay, the faster you can get help for your child.
Children who receive early treatment for developmental delays are more likely to graduate from high school, hold jobs, and live independently.
One of the most common screening tools is the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ). It is easy and quick. Parents or other caregivers answer simple questions like: 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? It takes about 15 minutes and you can complete it in your home or in the doctor’s waiting room. You share your special knowledge about your child and learn more about important developmental milestones. The ASQ also offers fun learning activities for parents and children.
If the results of the ASQ is that more screening is needed, children under three years old are referred to the Early Start program in their community. Older children are referred to their local school district.
If you want a development screening for you child, contact:
- Your child’s doctor.
- In California, all children enrolled in Medicaid qualify for screenings.
- Help Me Grow if you live in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, San Francisco, Solano or Orange counties.
- Help Me Grow works to screen all young children in the county.
- The Early Start Family Resource Center in your community if your child is younger than three years old.
- Your local school district if your child is three years or older.