Denver Developmental Screening Test


The Denver developmental screening test (DDST) is a test for screening cognitive and behavioral problems in children 0 to 6 years of age as to their development progress. It is the most widely used tool to assess childhood development. DDST can detect developmental delays during the infancy and preschool years. The name “Denver” reflects the fact that this screening test was created at the University of Colorado Medical Center in Denver. This test is not a test of intelligence but of the child’s level of development.

Categories of Development that are rated in DDST are the following:

  1. Personal-social
  2. Fine motor-adaptive
  3. Language
  4. Gross motor skills

Administration of the Test

  1. Ideally, DDST is completed when a child is approximately 3 or 4 month of age.
  2. The same test if repeated when the child is 10 months old.
  3. Finally, the test is conducted again when the child is 3 years old.

Test composition

  • The test consists of up to 125 items which is divided into four parts:
  1. For personal-social category the following aspects are assessed: socialization inside and outside the home; for example smiling of the child
  2. For fine motor-adaptive category the following aspects are assessed: hand-eye coordination, handling small objects such as grasping or drawing
  3. For the language category the following areas are assessed: production of sounds, ability to recognize, understand and use a language and the ability to combine words
  4. For the gross motor category the following aspects should be assessed: motor control such as sitting, walking, jumping and other movements

Materials for the test

  1. Skein of red wool
  2. A box of raisins
  3. A small bottle
  4. Bell
  5. Rattle with narrow handle
  6. Tennis ball
  7. Ten 1-inch brightly colored blocks
  8. Small plastic baby doll
  9. Toy baby bottle
  10. Plastic cup
  11. Pencil

How is the child scored with this test?

The child is scored P for passed, R for refused or N.O for no opportunity on each item according to the guidelines in the instruction manual.

In interpreting the scores the following is done:

  • The data are presented as age norms, similar to a growth curve.
  • Draw a vertical line at the child’s chronological age on the charts; if the infant was premature, subtract the months premature from chronological age.
  • The more items a child fails to perform (passed by 90% of his/her peers), the more likely the child manifests a significant developmental deviation that warrants further evaluation

image courtesy of

Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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