Why is Developmental Screening in Your Practice Important?

You are often the first line of defense

Approximately 25-30% of problems noted by parents during well-child visits are developmental and behavioral in nature. 10

Families feel supported

Families report higher levels of satisfaction and support for physicians who offer developmental screening. 11

Screening may lead to early learning

Studies show children who receive early treatment for developmental delays are more likely to be successful in school, hold jobs, and live independently. 12

Practice parameters support it

In 2006, and again in 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirmed its policy on the identification of infants and young children with developmental disorders. This policy recommends that, before turning 3, children should be screened a minimum of three times. 13

The American Academy of Pediatrics Practice Parameters 14

  • Developmental surveillance* during every well- child visit.
  • A general developmental screening using a well- validated tool at: 9, 18, and 30 months.
  • An autism-specific screening using a well-validated tool at: 18 and 24 months.
  • Referrals: If a risk is identified by any of the above, a referral needs to be made for developmental and/or medical evaluation and early intervention services.

*Surveillance includes:


  • Eliciting and attending to parents’ concerns about their child’s development.
  • Documenting and maintaining a developmental history.
  • Making accurate observations of the child.
  • Identifying risk and protective factors.
  • Maintaining an accurate record of findings and recommended follow-up.