Content Map Terms

Developmental Problems: Testing

Topic Overview

Health professionals who see infants and children screen for (watch for early signs of) developmental disabilities at every routine checkup. Developmental problems can affect how a child can talk, move, concentrate, and/or socialize.

The doctor will use developmental tests (questionnaires) and then review your child's results. He or she will compare your child's abilities with the normal milestones of children of the same age.

Your child will be evaluated right away if the doctor discovers obvious signs of developmental delays, such as:

  • 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, with the exception of repeating phrases (echolalia).
  • Any loss of language or social skills at any age.

If there are no obvious signs of developmental delays or any unusual results from the tests, most infants or children do not need further evaluation until the next routine checkup.

Children who have a sibling who has autism need continued monitoring. Along with the normal check-ups 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 autism. Some children may need to see a developmental pediatrician after the screening is done.

When socialization, learning, or behaviour problems develop in a person at any time or at any age, he or she should be evaluated.


Other Works Consulted

  • Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (2016). Recommendations on screening for developmental delay. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 188(8): 579–587. DOI: 10.1503 /cmaj.151437. Accessed June 13, 2016.


Current as of:
May 27, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics
Donald Sproule MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Louis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics