Importance of screening:

Screening young children is an effective, efficient way for professionals to catch problems and start treatment when it does the most good – during the crucial early years when the child’s brain and body are developing so rapidly.

“Compensating for missed opportunities, such as the failure to detect early difficulties…often requires extensive intervention, if not heroic efforts, later in life.” —From Neurons to Neighborhoods

Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) system has been chosen as the formal screening tool of the ECMH Consultation Project:

The tool is quick and easy to administer and score.  The ASQ was designed to be completed by parents.  Also this system is being used across various state and county programs, such as Early Care and Education, Early Head Start and Head Start, Early Intervention for developmental monitoring and OCYF.  It has strong technical qualities:

  • concurrent validity = 84% over all agreement – compared percentage of agreement between the results of parent-completed ASQ with the results of professionally administered standardized assessments
  • sensitivity*=72% overall agreement – ability to correctly identify those children with delays
  • specificity*=86% overall agreement – ability to correctly identify typically developing children

    *Given the complexity of measuring child development, the AAP considers high quality developmental screening tests to have sensitivity and specificity of 70-80%.


Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) System has two complementary components:

  1. Ages & Stages Questionnaires cover 5 developmental domains: communication, gross motor, fine motor, personal-social and problem solving
  2. Ages & Stages: Social Emotional focuses on social and emotional competence and the areas of: self-regulation, compliance, communication, adaptive functioning, autonomy, affect and interaction with people.


Results indicative of concern and referral for more intensive evaluation:

Cut off score vary depending on the age of the child and are included on each questionnaire. A low score on the ASQ indicates a concern, while a high score on the ASQ:SE is indicative of concern.

A concerning score does not necessarily mean that a child has a diagnosable condition, but may suggest the potential for something to develop if prevention/early intervention services do not occur within the context of caregiver/child relationship.

Referrals are most often made to:

Early Intervention – CONNECT Helpline 1-800-692-7288, a county CASSP coordinator, a behavioral health provider, or a pediatrician.