Every child needs a developmental screening

Your little peanut hasn't had a cold in months. And he seems healthy as a horse. So why would you need to take him to the doctor? Paying a visit to your pediatrician or family doctor isn't reserved just for sickness. Regular well checks can ensure your child is healthy and on the right track.

Well-child visits give your family physician the opportunity to keep tabs on your child's growth and development over time through periodic developmental screening. A developmental screening is a brief test that can help determine if your child is learning basic skills appropriate to his age or if he is experiencing developmental delays. Your child also can receive a developmental screening in a community or school setting.

During a developmental screening, the doctor might ask you some questions or talk and interact with your child to see how he or she plays, learns, speaks, behaves and moves. Providence Health Plan follows the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, which state that all children be screened for developmental delays and disabilities during regular well-child doctor visits at:

  • 9 months
  • 18 months
  • 24 or 30 months

Most doctors conduct routine developmental screenings. If, however, your physician does not, you can request one for your child.

Why early intervention is important

Many children with developmental delays who are not identified early on do not receive appropriate help to ensure they are successful in social situations and at school.

Research shows that early intervention can greatly improve a child's development. Early intervention services help children from birth to age 3 learn important skills and include speech, physical and social therapy. If you have concerns about your child's development, your doctor may talk to you about referring your child to early intervention services.

Children younger than age 3 who are at risk of having developmental delays may be eligible for early intervention treatment services even if the child has not received a formal diagnosis. These services are provided through an early intervention system in each state. If your child does participate in early intervention, communication may be sent back to your child's doctor to ensure he knows about the help your child is receiving.

In addition, treatment for particular symptoms, such as speech therapy for language delays, often does not require a formal diagnosis. Although early intervention is extremely important, intervention at any age can be helpful.

If your child hasn't had a developmental screening yet, or is due for one soon, call your pediatrician or family doctor to schedule a well-check appointment. You also can check out the Swindells Resource Center, part of Providence Child Center, for helpful information regarding developmental milestones. Swindells Resource Center has three locations in Oregon: Portland, Medford and Hood River.