Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving “bye, bye” are called developmental milestones. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (crawling, walking, etc.).
Developmental monitoring, also known as developmental surveillance, involves the following key steps in order to assess how a child is growing in relationship to the age-appropriate expectations. Monitoring healthy development means paying attention to the child’s physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being.
- Eliciting parental concerns, such as by asking questions like “Do you have any questions about how your child is learning, behaving or developing?”
- Documenting and maintaining a developmental history, including information about the child’s holistic growth.
- Observing the child, in order to ensure their progress in developmental milestones in communication, cognitive processing, fine and gross motor skills, as well behavior.
- Identifying risks and protective factors, in order to address the family’s specific needs and circumstances.
- Maintaining an accurate record of findings over time, including input from others (schools, etc.).
A developmental screening is a short assessment to tell if a child is achieving these developmental milestones. Help Me Grow administers brief, validated, and standardized tools that aid in determining whether children are learning these basic skills when he or she should, or if there are delays.
Fewer than half of children with developmental delays are identified before starting school, by which time significant delays already might have occurred and opportunities for treatment might have been missed. Engaging in developmental surveillance and screening practices can help ensure children are making progress on critical skills and ensure they get the supports they need in order to achieve their best.
For additional information about screenings and assessments, click here.