Developmental behavioral pediatricians, also known as developmental pediatricians, are doctors who receive specific sub-specialty training and certification within the field of developmental behavioral pediatrics after finishing a general pediatric residency. Board certification requires completion of a developmental behavioral fellowship and passing a national examination, followed by a continuing medical education program.
Developmental pediatricians focus on developmental, behavioral and learning issues in children from infancy through young adulthood. Developmental pediatric training allows a broad approach towards children's health and development that encompasses knowledge from general pediatrics and child development, child psychology, pediatric neurology and child psychiatry.
Why would a family with an autistic child see a developmental pediatrician?
General pediatricians typically have limited experience with autism spectrum disorders and are not ideally qualified to diagnose or treat autism. Developmental pediatricians are highly trained and experienced in identifying a range of developmental and behavioral differences. They can evaluate your child's overall development, provide a diagnosis, and recommend specific treatment plans. Developmental pediatricians also can coordinate medical evaluations or prescribe medications when appropriate. They often act as an advocate during school planning, providing documentation and support to make sure your child receives needed services.
In addition, Early Intervention and school-based evaluations typically do not make medical diagnoses such as autism, Aspergerís Disorder or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These types of diagnoses usually require evaluation by an independent evaluator, such as a developmental pediatrician. Developmental pediatricians also provide long term monitoring as a child moves through different educational settings, assisting with educational programming, behavioral and medical management, and often acting as a care coordinator.
What does a developmental pediatrician do when evaluating a child with autism?
A developmental pediatrician will typically spend at least an hour or two with a child to conduct an initial evaluation. He or she will interview parents about a child's developmental history, habits, abilities and challenges. Once the evaluation is completed, a developmental pediatrician will provide a full report and a specific diagnosis when appropriate. Families may also receive recommendations for treatment or referrals to agencies that fund and provide such treatments, help finding therapists, and guidance in choosing educational settings.