by Margaret Dunkle*
You Have Any Concerns About Your Child’s Learning, Development
or Behavior? Make sure your child is checked with a high-quality
Most doctors just “eyeball” young children, rather than use
a screening tool, to assess how well they are doing developmentally.
But these doctors miss more than half the kids who have behavioral,
learning or developmental problems! Don’t let your child be one
of these statistics!
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, three “excellent”
screening tools for young children – under age 8 – are:
The PEDS (Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status),
The Ages & Stages Questionnaires, and
The Infant Development Inventory.
These top-notch short tools ask questions about your child
and what he is or isn’t doing. You are the best expert on your
own child – and your answers provide the best information about
whether your child is doing fine or you need to go a step further.
Every time you use one of these tools, you become a better informed
parent and better able to tell the doctor what he or she needs
Unfortunately, few pediatricians use any formal screening instrument
at all. Seven out of 10 rely on their clinical judgments – even
though this method identifies less than 30% of children with mental
retardation, learning disabilities, language impairments, autism,
and other developmental disabilities, and less than 50% of children
with serious emotional and behavioral disturbances. However, pediatricians
who use one of these three high-quality screening tools identify
more than 70% of children with learning, developmental or behavioral
Take this article to your doctor and urge him or her to screen
your young child with one of the three good, quick and easy tools
the American Academy of Pediatrics says are “excellent.” If they
have not heard about these tests, suggest they look at the American
Academy of Pediatrics website on developmental pediatrics (www.dbpeds.org)
or the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (www.nectac.org).
If your child does have a problem, the sooner you identify
it and get needed help, the better her chances of overcoming or
at least minimizing it. Your doctor, your school system, health
agencies and nonprofit organizations can all help you find resources
High-Quality Screening Tools on the Web
PEDS (Parent’s Evaluation of Developmental Status) can be
found at www.pedstest.com (print version). For the online version,
see www.forepath.org. You can print out a letter with results
to take you your child’s doctor.
The Ages & Stages Questionnaires (including a downloadable
sample of the questionnaire for one age level can be found at
The Child Development Inventories can be found at www.childdevrev.com/idi_new.html.
*Margaret Dunkle is Senior Fellow with the Center for Health
Services Research & Policy at George Washington University. This
article, the first of a five-part series, Tips for Parent, is
reproduced with her permission. Future articles will address:
Speech & Language Milestones in Young Children, Activities to
Build Your Child’s Speech & Language Skills, 11 Tips for Getting
Your Child Ready for Kindergarten, and 12 More Tips for Getting
Your Child Ready for Kindergarten.