Q: [All Ages] Does your two-month-old baby smile at the sound of your voice? Can your five-month-old grab and hold a rattle? Does your one-year-old clap his hands? Does your two-year-old engage in pretend play?
A: These are just a few of the questions that developmental screenings explore. Even if your baby is healthy and thriving, it is important to take advantage of free developmental screenings as a way to learn more about your child’s specific behavior and development. Ideally, screenings are part of a well-child medical visit, but a number of community agencies provide access to them as well. The process is informative and can offer parents strategies to help promote their baby’s growth, learning and social-emotional development.
Developmental screenings are designed to monitor a baby or young child’s progress through specific areas of development including gross motor, fine motor, communication, problem-solving and social/emotional. Screenings are tailored to specific age intervals in a child’s development. If your child’s screening results indicate that he or she may not be not be on track in a particular area, you will gain information and useful strategies to address those areas or be connected to services for further evaluation of your child’s development.
The key is early intervention. Unfortunately, only 28.5 percent of children in California receive timely developmental screenings (First 5 Association of Calif.). As a result, learning and communication delays can be missed until a child begins school. Screenings can identify delays early and connect the young child with therapy or other support services. Children who receive early treatment for developmental delays are more likely to be kindergarten-ready and have overall success in their lives.
Screenings can be conducted in person or online. Validated and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) is a widely accepted tool used for developmental screenings. It is important to note that a screening is not meant to replace regular health visits with your child’s doctor.
Several Orange County agencies offer access to developmental screening:
MOMS Orange County
Qualified Maternal-Child Health coordinators provide in-person ASQ screening for infant development milestones in a program of monthly home visitation. Baby is screened every two months continuing through their first birthday. Parents are informed and coached about each area of baby’s development, health and wellness.
Help Me Grow
ASQs can be found on their website and completed online, or a parent can call the toll-free number to request a screening. Help Me Grow provides child development information, follow-up support, resource connections, outreach and care coordination.
ASQs can be accessed online and completed by the parent. They are also available at monthly events such as Baby Steps.
Family Support Network
At community screening events, qualified therapists screen children, ages 0-5, in a wide range of developmental areas.
Developmental screenings are a great way to monitor your young child’s development, learn what is typical for your child’s age, promote development and if necessary, access services for early intervention.
Janira Perez trains and coaches a team of Maternal-Child Health coordinators who conduct home visits during pregnancy and continuing through baby’s first birthday. Mothers and infants in the program get education, screenings and support to for a healthy pregnancy and key infant health and development.