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Health professionals who see infants and children
screen for (watch for early signs of)
developmental disabilities at every well-child visit.
Developmental problems can affect how a child can talk, move, concentrate,
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends
developmental testing for children at ages 9-, 18-, and 30-months, with
specific checks for
at ages 18 months and 24 months.1, 2 The doctor will use
developmental tests (questionnaires) and then review your child's
results. He or she will compare your child's abilities with the normal
milestones of children of the same age.
Your child will be
evaluated right away if the doctor discovers obvious signs of
developmental delays, such as:
If there are no obvious signs of developmental delays or any
unusual results from the tests, most infants or children do not need
further evaluation until the next well-child visit.
have a sibling who has autism need continued monitoring. Along with the
normal check-ups at each well-child visit, these children need to be screened for language delays, poor social skills, and other problems that could be a sign of autism.2 Some children may need to see a
developmental pediatrician after the screening is done.
When socialization, learning, or behavior problems develop in a person at
any time or at any age, he or she should be evaluated.
Council on Children With Disabilities, Section on
Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics, Bright Futures Steering Committee and
Medical Home Initiatives for Children With Special Needs Project Advisory
Committee (2006, reaffirmed 2010). Identifying infants and young children with developmental
disorders in the medical home: An algorithm for developmental surveillance and
screening. Pediatrics, 118(1): 405–420. [Erratum in
Pediatrics, 118(4): 1808–1809.]
Johnson CP, et al. (2007, reaffirmed 2010). American Academy of
Pediatrics clinical report: Identification and evaluation of children with
autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics, 120(5):
July 19, 2012
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
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