How Do Doctors Diagnose Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy requires a three-step diagnostic process:
- Developmental Monitoring
- Developmental Screening
- Developmental and Medical Evaluations
Combined, these forms of evaluation help form a clearer understanding of the developmental progress of your child.
Developmental monitoring examines how your child is growing and developing, particularly compared to expected milestones. This is the least formal type of evaluation prior to a cerebral palsy diagnosis. In addition to the observations of healthcare providers and nurses, parents and other family members or caregivers may help observe the developmental progress of a child.
Developmental screening is the next step in diagnosing a child with cerebral palsy. It consists of a standardized checklist and/or questionnaire which compares your child’s development against a pre-established benchmark. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, these screenings should occur at 9 months, 18 months, and 24 or 30 months.
Developmental and Medical Evaluations
If a developmental screening indicates a potential problem, a physician will likely recommend more thorough developmental and medical evaluations. These evaluations are typically administered by a specialist. Depending on the results, a cerebral palsy diagnosis may be made and early intervention services and/or special treatments may be recommended for your child.