Parents with more than one child have probably seen this themselves: Each child develops at their own pace.

Yet, we also know when a child isn’t reaching key milestones, it may be a sign that the child needs extra help.

One screening tool used by many professionals who work with children is the ASQ—the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. Learning about the ASQ can help you understand the bigger picture of child development screening and why it’s valuable.

What is the ASQ?

This easy-to-complete survey uses a parent’s knowledge of their child by asking simple questions that can reveal important insights about development, such as: “Does your baby pick up a crumb or Cheerio with the tips of his thumb and a finger?” The parent’s answer can be yes, sometimes, or not yet.

Sometimes, this questionnaire is printed out and provided to parents by a child care provider. Or some parents may use an online version.

Once completed, the ASQ is scored and parents can then have a discussion with their child’s doctor, teacher, or other expert about areas where extra attention might be needed.

What happens next?

When a child’s development is on track, parents can continue to engage with their child and keep noticing how they’re doing.

When extra attention is needed, it can be as simple as adding some learning activities at home. Other times, a child might benefit from developmental or therapy services or the child may need to meet with a specialist for a more in-depth evaluation.

Some parents may worry that screening their child can come with a downside: Will my child wind up with a negative label if their “score” is low?

It may help to think of screening as a means for understanding your child, their strengths, and the milestones you can celebrate as they continue to grow.

An ASQ can’t determine if your child has a disability. But it can help you catch potential issues early, so that your child can get further assessments—and get help with special needs.

Other types of screening tools

The ASQ is just one survey that families with young children can use to learn about their child and the stage of development.

First Five SC can connect you with other programs that provide screenings and with experts who can help you understand how to use what you’ve learned to best support your child’s mental and physical growth.

Learn more

  • For an overview of how the ASQ works, as well as guides to child development milestones, this website is loaded with resources.
  • First Five SC provides a directory of programs for families in South Carolina that include screenings, plus support services for children who need extra help. 


While every child develops at their own pace, a parent will often recognize when their child needs extra help, if they know how to look. See how answering some key questions can guide parents, teachers and health care providers to understand and meet a child’s unique needs.