DEVELOPMENTAL SCREENING: Sharing Concerns about Your Child’s Development With Your Doctor

Developmental milestones are clues that your child’s growth is on track. The way they listen, talk, move, behave and learn at certain ages are big milestones. When your child is on track, it’s time to celebrate! When they are not, it’s time to talk to the doctor.

Developmental screening is a test to see if a child’s development is on track. A doctor should screen your child at 9, 18, 24 and 30 months, and every year after that. If you have concerns about your child it’s important to raise the concern and act early. It is crucial for the child’s continued development to be screened and assessed for developmental delays. If your doctor notices a developmental delay, there are health, developmental or behavioral specialist available to help the child reach his or her full potential.

Every time you bring your child to a well visit, your child has the opportunity to receive a developmental screening. Whether or not you have any concerns about your child’s development, be sure to ask if your child is being screened. If you are concerned about your child’s development, share those concerns with your child’s doctor.

Here are some tips on sharing concerns about a child’s development.

  1. Be Prepared. Make notes about what expected milestones you feel your child is not meeting. Be specific, and give examples that may help your doctor understand your concerns.
  2. Express Your Concerns Clearly and Be Persistent. Be clear and concise about what is concerning you. Focus on specific milestones and examples. Make sure you understand the answers from your doctor. If you feel your questions are not answered, ask for a referral to a see a pediatrician who specializes in development or behavior.
  3. Ask Questions. Be sure you understand all the terms that your doctor uses. If you do not, then ask for clarification. After screenings are conducted, ask about the results, what they mean, and for referrals to specialists, if necessary. Ask how to move forward from here.
  4. Follow Up. Follow up screenings are important for all children. Continue to ask for screenings at 9, 18, 24, and 30 months, and every year after that. If you find out from a screening that your child may be at risk for a developmental delay, follow up through early intervention programs or ask your doctor to refer you to Early Intervention programs.

For more information about how to talk to your doctor about developmental concerns for your child, visit First Signs. To find a doctor that offers screening, dial 2-1-1 for Help Me Grow.