A Developmental Peadiatrician is a doctor who looks into matters related to the learning and behavioural difficulties in a child. A developmental paediatrician gets referrals from the child’s paediatrician, other specialists or teachers. Occasionally concerned parents may want help to look into the developmental aspects as the child is growing up.Certain groups of children require the assistance for the evaluation and intervention by a developmental paediatrician. These include;
- Premature babies, Growth retarded or low birth weight babies
- Genetic conditions – Down Syndrome, Turner’s syndrome
- Neurological conditions – Epilepsy, malformations of brain, Metabolic conditions, Spina bifida
- Medical conditions after birth – Hypothyroidism, Renal disorders, chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, cardiac problems
- Developmental delays in the first-5 years – Cerebral Palsy, ASD, ADHD, Speech delays, Hearing impaired, Visual impairment
- Academic difficulties – Slow learner, learning disabilities like writing, reading or math difficulties
- Behavioural problems – Habit disorders, discipline issues, anxiety, oppositional behaviours
- Children with regulatory problems related to sleep, feeding, bedwetting and toilet training.
These medical specialists get into the depth of the problem to reach a diagnosis and counsel the parents for the further support of their child. They also help to provide the best possible support for the child in a school setting.
How does an evaluation happen?
A developmental paediatrician takes a very elaborate history and takes feedback even from the child’s school. A detailed physical examination and screening blood tests are often done. They interact with the child and observe thechild’s activity. They take feedback from the parents regarding the child’s behavior in various settings.
There are many other professionals who work with the developmental paediatrician including physiotherapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, special educator and speech therapist/ audiologist. These professionals do detailed evaluations and the doctor gives a diagnosis based on the range of information from the reports and clinical history. Sometimes when the diagnosis is not clear-cut, the doctor monitors the progress of these children and helps the family get the best possible support for their child.
Medications are often avoided in young children but occasionally prescribed by the developmental paediatrician for managing problem behaviours and attention issues. They work very closely with other specialists like paediatric neurologist, child psychiatrist, endocrinologist, orthopaedician, ophthalmologist and ENT surgeon.
The developmental paediatrician helps by
- Providing discipline strategies at home and various settings
- Giving recommendations to the school authorities to provide appropriate accommodation strategies based on the difficulties of the child
- Strategies to improve the child’s activities and involvement at home
- Initiate early intervention services and other suitable services for the child
- Counsel the parents regarding progress and well-being of the child