Doctors hope new changes to the developmental milestones checklist will lead to children with autism and social-communication disabilities being identified earlier.
America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics have significantly updated their developmental milestones checklist, raising the
percentage of children who typically meet certain milestones from 50 per cent to 75 per cent.
It is an important distinction, signifying that most children should be capable of certain behaviours and skills, rather than just half the children at that age. The changes will make it clearer to parents and doctors where children are falling behind and discourage a wait-and-see approach.
This is the first update to the checklist in nearly 20 years and could lead to significant improvements in children with physical, cognitive and social communication delays being offered supports and therapies earlier.
New milestones have also been added to the checklist, including social-emotional indicators, like the age when most children typically smile to get attention (4 months).
It also includes ages children start acting shy around strangers (6 months), clapping when excited (15 months) and engaging in pretend play (4 years) as well as social-emotional markers such as when a child should be hugging a doll or toy, showing affection, and saying phrases like “look at me!”
Checklists are now available for 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 24 months and 30 months, as well as 3 years, 4 years and 5 years and can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html