By National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY)
Children are expected to learn a multitude of skills while growing up, which emerge as they grow and develop. From birth to just a few months old, they are expected to smile, turn over, respond, communicate, eat solid foods, crawl, etc. These skills are referred to as developmental milestones. The normalcy varies from child to child; we cannot necessarily compare one child to another and determine whether or not one child has a delay.
The first step as a parent is to observe your child; if a parent is concerned about the development of the child, then they should discuss the situation with the pediatrician. The pediatrician would then determine the appropriate steps for screening, if necessary. Many pediatricians will first observe the child as well and ask the parent to continue to make observations and see if any progress is made. The parent and child are then to return to the pediatrician for further evaluation. However, should the pediatrician be immediately concerned about the development, he/she will go ahead and begin the screening process.
Developmental screening is looking for developmental delays. The initial screening is generally quick and measures the child's skills and development. This screening doesn't diagnose the child, but determines whether or not the child should be referred for a developmental evaluation, which is a more in-depth process. The developmental evaluation is conducted by highly trained professionals and will determine the child's strengths and weaknesses. The areas of development consist of: physical development, cognitive development, communication development, social or emotional development, and adaptive development. The results are then used to determine whether the child is in need of early intervention services and/or treatment plan.