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If you feel your child is experiencing signs of a physical or developmental delay, the first person to speak with is their pediatrician or primary care physician. Upon further examination, they may decide the best choice is to refer your child to a highly specialized doctor, a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician.
A pediatrician is trained to observe your child’s physical growth progress, whereas a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, a subspecialty of pediatrics, is initially trained as a pediatrician. Then study for an additional three years, focusing on developmental and physical difficulties.
As a newer specialty, the American Board of Pediatrics only began in 2002, certifying developmental-behavioral pediatricians.
Despite this specialty’s newness, these medical professionals are in demand, and the trained professionals at Circle Care Services can help you locate one should the need arise.
What does a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician do?
The primary role of a developmental-behavioral pediatrician is to evaluate children who aren’t behaving, learning, or developing the same way as their peers. Often, children experiencing these difficulties are referred to this pediatric specialist via their primary care physician or an early intervention program in their area.
A developmental-behavioral pediatrician is able to dissect a child’s behavioral or developmental difficulty and reach a diagnosis. For example, if your child is experiencing angry outbursts or unprovoked rage, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician can pinpoint the source and diagnose the cause of this behavior as ADHD. Yet, these ADHD symptoms may be something else, such as autism spectrum disorder.
That’s where a developmental-behavioral pediatrician’s expertise can help identify the reason for your child’s symptoms.
What does a Behavioral Pediatrician diagnose?
Developmental-behavioral pediatricians have the training to evaluate, diagnose, and then provide treatment for children and their families with a wide range of behavioral and developmental disabilities. They include some of the following:
- Delayed development in cognitive abilities, speech, motor skills, and language,
- Developmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, spina bifida, and visual and hearing impairments,
- Habit disorders, including Tourette syndrome and Tics,
- Behavioral and other developmental conditions such as genetic disorders, diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, and cancer,
- Regulatory conditions such as feeding problems, bed wetting (enuresis), soiling (encopresis), discipline difficulties, complex toilet-training issues,
- Learning disorders such as dyslexia, math disorders, writing adversities, and other learning problems related to school,
- Behavioral and attention challenges including ADHD, oppositional defiant behavior, depression, and anxiety.
How does a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician evaluate my child?
A developmental-behavioral pediatrician must follow a series of steps as part of a standard evaluation. They include the following:
- Taking a detailed inventory of your child,
- Performing a thorough medical exam,
- Speaking with and observing your child in ‘real-life’ settings,
- Inquiring about how your child acts in a variety of different settings,
- Interviewing the other adults in your child’s life, including daycare providers, teachers, babysitters, and other family members.
The doctor may recommend your child be evaluated by other specialists such as an occupational therapist, psychiatrist, or physical therapist.
Once all the examinations and evaluations are complete, the Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician will usually reach a diagnosis. They may not arrive at a definitive decision. Sometimes they will conclude your child needs specific therapies, and the doctor will meet with your child regularly.
What occurs after the diagnosis?
A Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician may prescribe medication for your child and see them regularly to ensure they’re progressing. The doctor may offer an outline of unique therapies and treatments both within and outside of school for your child, which will require regular follow-ups with them. They may also help you improve your understanding of your child’s behavior and develop discipline strategies.
Where can I find a Developmental Pediatrician?
Developmental-behavioral pediatricians work in hospitals, clinics, larger medical centers, rehabilitation centers, and private practices. They can also work in tandem with schools, community centers, and other child-centered organizations.
Frequently, these specialized doctors work on a team with other professionals. This group can include a psychologist, language pathologist, physical therapist, pediatric psychiatrist, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, clinical social worker, occupational therapist, or educational diagnostician.
If you live in the New Jersey area, Circle Care Services is frequently called upon to be a part of that more extensive group of specialized professionals. We can help you find a developmental-behavioral pediatrician that fits your needs.
How to get help for your child
If you believe your child is experiencing a physical or developmental delay, rest assured there is help and support. Contact Circle Care Services if you’re in the New Jersey area. We can connect you with a team of advocates who can support you during this time of learning and growth. We have behavioral analysts, therapists, and other experts who can collaborate with a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and the rest of your specialized team. Contact us today!