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Developmental Problems: Testing - Topic Overview

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, and/or socialize.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends developmental testing for children at ages 9-, 18-, and 30-months, with specific checks for autism 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.

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Your child will be evaluated right away if the doctor discovers obvious signs of developmental delays, such as:

  • No babbling, pointing, or other gestures by 12 months.
  • Saying no single words by 16 months.
  • Saying no two-word spontaneous phrases by 24 months, with the exception of repeating phrases (echolalia).
  • Any loss of language or social skills at any age.

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.

Children who 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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: July 19, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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