What is Screening?
Screening is a brief, simple procedure used to identify infants and young children who may be at risk for potential health, developmental, or social-emotional problems. It identifies children who may need a health assessment, diagnostic assessment, or educational evaluation.
"Screening" means using a standardized instrument (either parent questionnaire or an observational) that has been validated by research to learn more about the child's development. Using a standardized instrument is much more effective for identifying real concerns or delays than just using professional judgment or informal questions about the child's development. Refer to Developmental, Social-Emotional, and Autism Spectrum Disorder Screening in Early Childhood Fact Sheet for more information.
Screening helps identify children who need more evaluation and address concerns early before they become bigger problems.
Screening provides an opportunity for young children and their families to access a wide variety of services and early childhood programs, and promotes and supports parents' understanding of their child's health, development, and learning.
Developmental screening is early identification of children at risk for cognitive, motor, communication, or social-emotional delays. These are delays that may interfere with expected growth, learning, and development and may warrant further diagnosis, assessment, and evaluation.
Developmental screening instruments include the domains of:
- fine and gross motor skills
- speech and language
- social-emotional development
Social-emotional screening is a component of developmental screening of young children that focuses on a child's ability to:
- Express and regulate emotions
- Form close and secure relationships
- Explore his/her environment and learn
Separate social-emotional screening is needed for young children, since it is not adequately addressed in general developmental screening instruments. For children under age 6 years, social-emotional screening is synonymous with mental health screening.
Mental health screening
Mental health screening is the early identification of children at risk for possible mental health disorders that may interfere with expected growth, learning, and development and may warrant further diagnosis, assessment, and evaluation.