You may not be thinking about preparing your baby for school when he or she is still in diapers, but the Early Childhood Utah Program at the Utah Department of Health, says that making sure your baby meets developmental milestones helps get your baby ready for success throughout his or her lifetime. The Department of Health recommends a screening tool, called the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, to help parents and caregivers make sure your baby is right on track.
Jade Elliott spoke with Carrie Martinez, Utah Department of Health, to discuss the questionnaire and how it helps parents.
What is the Ages and Stages Questionnaire?
The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (often called the ASQ) is an evidenced-based screening tool parents or caregivers use to make sure your baby is developing all of the skills needed to be on track when he or she starts school. This can let parents know where their child is at developmentally and gives parents important information to help make the best decisions for their child.
The ASQ is made up of 2 different screening tools. Each tool has about 30 questions and takes 20-30 minutes. The first screening tool helps parents understand whether or not their baby meets developmental milestones and the other looks at your baby’s social and emotional development.
The first screening tool looks at the following developmental milestones:
- Gross motor
- Fine motor
- Communication (both expressive and receptive)
- Adaptive behaviors
- Personal and social development
The second screening tool looks at a child’s social emotional development. Social and emotional screenings look at things that tell you whether your baby is interacting like he or she should in social situations.
The core features of emotional development include:
- The ability to identify and understand your own feelings
- Accurately read and comprehend others’ emotions
- The ability to manage strong emotions and if you’re able t express them in a constructive way
- Regulating (or controlling) your own behavior
- Developing empathy for others
- Establishing and maintaining relationships
What are Developmental milestones?
Developmental milestones are foundational skills your baby needs in order to do other things later in life. For example, your baby has to be able to master certain movements before he or she can walk. The American Association of Pediatrics has screening recommendations and developmental milestones for children up to 6 years old. These recommendations let parents know when their child should get screened and skills he or she should have at each age.
They recommend screening at:
- 6, 12, 18 and 25 months (2 years)
- And then at and then 3, 4, and 5 years old
How often can parents use the screening tool?
Parents can screen on a regular basis with their child, any time from one month to 6 years. You can do the screening more than once because children develop at such a rapid rate.
Parents also have different needs at different stages of a child’s development. For example, you may be very comfortable and at ease about parenting your new infant but may need additional information when your child becomes a toddler and wants more independence.
Why would a parent want to use the ASQ screening tool?
- You know your baby best.
Early Childhood Utah, healthcare providers, teachers, and ASQ recognize that you as a parent are the true expert on your child’s development. ASQ’s parent-completed screening tool uses the in-depth knowledge that families provide.
- It’s family friendly.
Parents love being active partners in screening. The tool is easy to use and the fun learning activities are the perfect way for families to help children make developmental progress.
It is important to trust your parental instincts and to advocate for your child. If you have concerns about your child’s development, you can check with your Local Health Department, WIC offices, Early Intervention agency, Home Visiting Program, Local Medical Provider, Early Childhood Educator and Utah Department of Health.
If you feel like you need assistance, ask one of these providers for a referral.
- Caregivers, teachers, and pediatricians also love using the screening tool. It validates parental involvement and knowledge of their child. This helps to strengthen the home to school or pediatrician relationship.
Where can I get an ASQ screening done for my child?
You can reach out to your caregiver, pediatrician, teacher, or Early Childhood Utah to help you find a resource or program in your area that uses the Ages and Stages Questionnaire.
Utah has many resources for parents who may have concerns about their child’s development:
- Your local health department and WIC offices
- Early Intervention agency
- Home visiting program
- Your pediatrician, doctor, or a local medical provider
- An early childhood educator
- The Utah Department of Health.
Anyone who is in early care and education, medical, or is a healthcare provider can get ASQ training for FREE:
If you are a child care provider, early care and education teacher, or a medical or health professional and are interested in using the screening tool within your program, please reach out to Carrie Martinez at the Utah Department of Health email@example.com , or visit the Early Childhood Utah websitehttps://earlychildhoodutah.utah.gov/ for more information.
For more information about important developmental milestones, visit CDC’s website.
The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.