If You’re Concerned
Talk to Your Child’s Doctor
As a parent, you know your child best. If your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, or if you think there could be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks, or acts, talk to your child’s doctor and share your concerns. Don’t wait.
Use the milestones checklist to track your child’s development. Print it out and share it with your child’s doctor or nurse at the next visit.
These checklists are not a substitute for standardized, validated developmental screening tools.
Ask About Developmental Screening
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development using standardized, validated tools at 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months or whenever a parent or provider has a concern. Ask your child’s doctor about your child’s developmental screening.
Easter Seals, through support from the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, provides parents with FREE access to the Ages & Stages Questionnaires®, Third Edition, one of many general developmental screening tools. Click here to learn more and take the questionnaire. Be sure to share the completed questionnaire and results with your child’s doctor.
Sharing Your Concerns
For tips on sharing concerns about a child’s development, click on one of the following:
Parent to Doctor
Ask For a Referral
If you or the doctor thinks there might be a delay, ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist who can do a more in-depth evaluation of your child.
Doctors your child might be referred to include:
- Developmental pediatricians. These doctors have special training in child development and children with special needs.
- Child neurologists. These doctors work on the brain, spine, and nerves.
- Child psychologists or psychiatrists. These doctors know about the human mind.
Get an Evaluation
At the same time as you ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist, call your state’s public early childhood system to request a free evaluation to find out if your child qualifies for intervention services. This is sometimes called a Child Find evaluation. You do not need to wait for a doctor’s referral or a medical diagnosis to make this call.
Where to call for a free evaluation from the state depends on your child’s age:
Children 0-3 Years Old
If your child is younger than 3 years old, contact your local early intervention system.
To find out the contact for your state, call the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) at 1-800-695-0285. Or visit the NICHCY website. Once you find your state on this webpage, look for the heading "Programs for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities: Ages Birth through 3."
Learn more about early intervention »
Children 3 Years Old or Older
If your child is 3 years old or older, contact your local public school system.
Even if your child is not old enough for kindergarten or enrolled in a public school, call your local elementary school or board of education and ask to speak with someone who can help you have your child evaluated.
If you’re not sure who to contact, call the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities at 1 800 695 0285 or visit the NICHCY website. Once you find your state on this webpage, look for the heading "Programs for Children with Disabilities: Ages 3 through 5."
Tips & Tools
What to Say…
If you’re not sure what to say when you talk with your child’s doctor or when you call to request an evaluation, visit our web page for some tips.
While You Wait
If you have to wait to get an appointment to see a specialist or start intervention services, know that there are some simple things you can do today and everyday to help your child’s development.
Use this recordkeeping worksheet to help you keep track of your notes.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
TTY: (888) 232-6348
- Contact CDC-INFO