Educating children with special needs since 2005

Red Flags

A Checklist for Children from Birth to 12 Years Old

Even when children develop differently, there is a typical or usual path of development that should guide your thinking. If your child appears to be having difficulties, you are right to be concerned as these difficulties may directly or indirectly impact his/her performance academically and socially.

Red Flags is a quick reference guide that outlines a range of functional indicators or domains commonly used to monitor healthy child development. It is intended to help in the determination of when and where to refer for additional advice, formal assessment and/or treatment.

1-2 Years 2-3 Years
  • Cannot walk by 18 months
  • Walks exclusively on toes
  • Does not speak at least 15 words by 18 months
  • By 15 months does not seem to know the function of common household objects (e.g. telephone, spoon, comb)
  • Does not imitate actions by 24 months
  • Does not follow simple one-step instructions by 24 months
  • Frequent falling and difficulty with stairs
  • Persistent drooling or very unclear speech
  • Inability to build a tower of more than 4 blocks
  • Difficulty manipulating small objects
  • Inability to copy a circle by 3 years old
  • Inability to communicate in short phrases
  • No involvement in pretend play
  • Failure to understand simple instructions
  • Little interest in other children
  • Extreme difficulty separating from primary caregiver
Nursery Kindergarten
  • Fine and gross motor skills slow to develop
  • Slow vocabulary growth
  • Difficulty following directions or routines
  • Does not use sentences or more than three words
  • Does not use me or you appropriately
  • Still clings or cries when parents leave
  • Extremely restless and easily distracted
  • Shows no interest in interactive games
  • Trouble interacting with peers
  • Does not respond to people outside the family
  • Resists dressing, sleeping, using the toilet
  • Lashes out without any self-control when angry or upset
  • Speaks later than most children
  • Slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds
  • Has difficulties with pre-academic skills/concepts (e.g. colours, shapes)
  • Unable to recall and describe past, present and future events
  • Difficulty in following directions
  • Difficulty in handwriting
  • Significant attention difficulties
  • Delay in self-help skills
  • Does not like to take part in group activities
  • Does not share and take turns with other children
  • Poor coordination, unaware of physical surroundings, prone to accidents
Lower Primary
  • Difficulty in sustaining attention in work tasks
  • Fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Poor memory for new vocabulary and printed words
  • Slow to learn new skills, relies heavily on memorization
  • Frustrated by school tasks and assignments
  • Trouble staying focused on tasks at home or at school
  • Trouble understanding instructions or directions
  • Difficulty “joining in” and maintaining positive social status in a peer group
  • Trouble with sharing and expressing feelings
  • Has difficulty with pragmatic skills (i.e. stays on topic)
  • Difficulty with self-control when frustrated
  • Poor coordination, unaware of physical surroundings, prone to accidents
  • Not interested in playing with other children
Upper Primary Onwards
  • Fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish school, work or chores
  • Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort such as homework and organizing work tasks
  • Is easily distracted by outside influences
  • Has poor sense of direction; slow to learn the way around a new place
  • Has difficulty re-telling what has just been said
  • Uses vague, imprecise language and has a limited vocabulary
  • Has difficulty understanding instructions or directions
  • Has difficulty with pragmatic skills (i.e. stays on topic, makes inferences based on a speaker’s verbal or non-verbal cues)
  • Has weak comprehension of ideas and themes
  • Has difficulty with self-control when frustrated
  • Has trouble knowing how to share/express feelings
  • Is doubtful of own abilities and is prone to attribute successes to luck or outside influences rather than hard work
  • Poor coordination, unaware of physical surroundings, prone to accidents