Developmental Screenings: Important for ALL Children


980885-customThe American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) claims that 85% of a child’s brain develops in the first five years and recommends that all infants and young children be screened for delays as a regular part of their ongoing health care.  It’s a critical period in a child’s life to identify delays in the areas of physical, social or emotional development.  Intervention prior to kindergarten has huge academic, social, and economic benefits. Studies have shown that children who receive early treatment for developmental delays are more likely to graduate from high school, hold jobs, live independently, and avoid delinquency.

At Gatepath, countless families have benefited from Watch Me Grow developmental screenings. We’d like to share with you Sarah and Susana’s story about how the screening helped them to not only strengthen their relationship with each other, but to connect in meaningful ways with others in their community.

Watch Me Grow in Action

Upon a referral from her family pediatrician, Sarah brought her daughter Susana (age 16 months) to Watch Me Grow for a developmental screening. Sarah had been concerned that her daughter wouldn’t walk on her own without additional support.

After reviewing the screening results with Sarah, our Watch Me Grow care coordinator assisted her with a referral to intervention services as well as community activities for parents with young children. One of the programs was the Watch Me Grow Tu y Yo parent-child group. Sarah loved the name and saw possibilities for her own personal growth as well as the development of her daughter. “The name ‘Tu y Yo’ (or ‘You and I’) helped me think about the love story and special relationship I can have with my daughter,” she said.

Through Tu y Yo, Sarah received new tools to grow as a mother and ensure that Susana reached developmental milestones. Susana was very timid in the class with other kids at first, but she eventually grew more comfortable and began to explore her environment away from her mother.  “I found the developmental screenings to be helpful to me as a mother in order to learn about Susana’s development, including her areas of strength as well as how I might support her in areas where she needed more support,” Sarah said.

A child with ANY type of developmental delay is at risk for falling behind. That’s why intervention before the age of five is so important. It gives children the best chance for entering school with the same skills as their peers, which can help them succeed in their long term education.  Sarah continues to monitor Susana’s development through screenings at Watch Me Grow.

A Valuable Resource for All Children

Developmental screenings are a great way to understand your child’s strengths and areas for improvement and will allow you to discover if your child is reaching key milestones in the following areas (with examples):

  • Communication – understanding words and expressing thoughts and feelings using words and sentences
  • Fine motor — grasping a crayon
  • Gross motor – bouncing a ball
  • Problem solving – completing a puzzle
  • Personal-social – using a spoon to serve and feed yourself
  • Social-emotional – interacting with others and expressing your own feelings

After evaluating the results, our staff will work with the family to plan the next steps, which may involve getting further assessment by a variety of care providers, such as developmental nutritionists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, developmental behavioral pediatricians, etc.

We may also recommend an evaluation by agencies and organizations that provide services for children with special needs and disabilities, including regional centers and school district special education services. With permission from the parents, we can share results and discuss next steps with their pediatrician.

Throughout the entire process, our primary goal for the Watch Me Grow program is to support parents on their journey toward understanding their child’s unique needs.

The Ages and Stages Questionnaires is a screening tool used worldwide and considered the “gold standard” for developmental screening by leading authorities, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Neurology.

For more information about Watch Me Grow, you can visit our website: You can also call us at (650) 652-0659 or email All of our services are available in English and Spanish.

Watch Me Grow is a program funded by First 5 with services available to families in the San Mateo County only. For those living outside of San Mateo County, visit or call (916) 263-1050 to find a screening program near you.