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  • Andrea Ryan

Charting Developmental Milestones After 2022 CDC Updates

In a new update to the Learn the Signs. Act Early program, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have updated developmental milestone guidelines to help parents recognize autism and developmental delays in their children. Guidelines haven't been updated since 2005.





Updates are intended to help parents, caregivers, and healthcare providers catch autism earlier and measure milestones against a clear baseline. These changes also increased the percentage of kids meeting milestones in accordance with their age from 50 percent to 75 percent.


To help make social and emotional development markers clearer, the CDC added milestones for 15-month-olds and 30-month-olds in the new guidelines. At 15 months old, a toddler should clap when excited, hug their dolls or toys, and show affection with hugs, cuddles, and kisses. At 30 months, they should be able to show off what they are capable of using words such as "look at me". The organization also:


  • The checklists were expanded to include additional milestones of social and emotional development

  • To clarify certain milestones, vague language has been removed

  • Duplicate milestones were removed

  • Added open-ended questions caregivers can ask doctors during well-visits

  • A list of updated tips and activities caregivers can use to promote the development of their children


“This has been a need that is long overdue,” said Paul Lipkin, a pediatrician and medical outpatient services director at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. “We wanted to take a close look at all the data and milestones through multiple sources to come up with what we think is an accurate reflection of a child’s development.”


The updated guidelines will help parents, caregivers, and pediatric healthcare professionals catch developmental delays early and begin taking preventative measures sooner. “The earlier a child is identified with a developmental delay the better, as treatment as well as learning interventions can begin,” Lipkin added in a press release. “At the same time, we don’t want to cause unnecessary confusion for families or professionals. Revising the guidelines with expertise and data from clinicians in the field accomplishes these goals. Review of a child’s development with these milestones also opens up a continuous dialogue between a parent and the health care provider about their child’s present and future development.”


Charting Developmental Milestones


While the new CDC guidelines for developmental milestones were created primarily for use by parents, guardians, caregivers and pediatricians, the changes presented will certainly change the daily work of occupational therapists and pediatric therapists dramatically. Once developmental delays are noted, many children and their families are referred to therapists for intervention. The process of new patient establishment and initial evaluation should include reference to each new milestone and how it is either being met or not by the new patient.


The charting process at PatientStudio is continually updated with respect to CDC guidelines, so it is easy to transition to new directives within our patient chart portal. Including notations in an EHR can be as simple as checking a box or selecting from a drop down. And because the patient chart is so customizable, it is easy to have an organized system that is intuitive so that therapists can see progress and determine adjustments that need to be made.


The transition of such important details like governmental regulations on pediatric healthcare can be difficult to adjust to as a therapist. With a practice management system in place that compensates for these changes, the learning curve for changes in charting developmental milestones can be steep. Want to learn more? Set up a demo of the PatientStudio patient chart and the rest of our functionality today.