The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends developmental testing for children at ages 9-, 18-, and 30-months.1 Specific checks for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are done at ages 18 months and 24 months. The doctor will use developmental tests (questionnaires) and then review your child's results. The doctor will compare your child's abilities with the normal milestones of children of the same age.
At all well-child visits, the doctor will watch for early signs of developmental problems. These can affect how a child can talk, move, concentrate, and socialize.
A child who has signs of developmental delays should be evaluated. These signs include:
- 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, except for repeated phrases (echolalia).
- Not walking by 18 months.
- Any loss of language or social skills at any age.
If there are no clear signs of problems from the screening tests, most children don't need more evaluation until the next well-child visit.
Children who have a sibling who has ASD need to be screened more often. 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 ASD. Some children may need to see a developmental pediatrician after the screening is done.
Anyone who develops problems with socialization, learning, or behavior should be evaluated.
- Committee on Practice and Ambulatory Medicine and Bright Futures Periodicity Schedule Workgroup. (2021). 2021 recommendations for pediatric preventive health care. Pediatrics. published online February 16, 2021: e2020049776. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2020-049776. Accessed February 24, 2021.
Current as of: February 28, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.