Current Content
Volume 33, Number 6
November/December 2007

Continuing Nursing Education
Screening for Communication and Cognitive Disorders in Infants and Toddlers
Frances Scheffler, Donald Vogel, Rachel Astern, Jeanel Burgess, Tara Conneally, Kathy Salerno

Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) have a primary role in providing parent-inclusive well-child physical and developmental examinations. Although routine physical examinations are well defined, developmental assessments, including communication and cognition, are not. Currently a number of developmental screening tests exist; however, none have become established as the “gold standard” for the primary health care professional as none are convenient or time-efficient to employ. In particular, there is a need for a screening tool that PNPs can use to evaluate early development in their youngest patients. This article offers a screening instrument capable of being easily completed through parent interview in a routine integrated well-child exam. The screening includes questions that probe communication and cognition in infants and toddlers, and identifies atypical behaviors that are considered by developmental specialists to be “red flags” and precursors to later communication and cognitive disorders. A brief description of the nature of communication and cognitive disorders in young children is included.