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Developmental Problems: Testing


The Canadian Pediatrics Society recommends developmental testing for babies and toddlers during routine checkups. footnote 1 Specific checks for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are usually done at ages 18 months and 36 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 routine checkups, 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 routine checkup.

Children who have a sibling who has ASD need to be screened more often. Along with the normal checkups at each routine checkup, 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 behaviour should be evaluated.



  1. Zwaigenbaum L, et al. (2019). Early detection for autism spectrum disorder in young children. Paediatrics and Child Health, 24(7): 424–443. DOI: 10.1093/pch/pxz119. Accessed December 2, 2019.


Current as of: March 1, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Louis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics