What to Expect At First Developmental Pediatrician Visit - A Quick Guide
I wrote this blog post to give some guide to parents who will visit the Developmental Pediatrician (Dev. Ped.) for the first time.
My goal is to give you an idea what to prepare and what to expect at first Developmental Pediatrician visit.
I understand how it would be so daunting to meet a specialist of your child’s case on a point that you are so clueless of what’s ahead of your family. I remember, this is one of the topics I researched on the internet when our General Pediatrician recommended us to see a Dev. Ped.
I hope this will help.
First Things First
First thing you need to know is that, here in the Philippines, in most cases, it will take you three (3) to six (6) months before you can secure an appointment with a Developmental Pediatrician.
There are just a few of them in the country, that is why it’s difficult to get an instant appointment.
For my third Developmental Pediatrician, I would need to wait for a year for our visit but that’s actually okay since the timing will be perfect for my son’s homeschooling requirements. (Yes, I decided to have another Dev Ped but this is a different story).
Fees to see a Developmental Pediatrician typically ranges from P3,000 to P6,000.
What to Prepare:
1. Have Someone Who Will Attend To Your Child
As much as possible, have someone who will attend to your child when you and your spouse will visit the Developmental Pediatrician. This first visit is very crucial because, at this time, all of your questions should be addressed and it will be very difficult for you to focus when your child will be anxious and will try to get your attention from time to time.
2. List Down Your Child’s Red Flags
The Dev. Ped. will ask you why you’ve decided to bring your child and will ask you for the things that you notice to your child’s behavior that led you to see your Dev Ped.
I would, however, recommend that you list down what’s obvious to you before you do a thorough research on the signs of Autism. This way, you will come up with a better assessment of your child and you will be able to pinpoint the red flags solely based on what is the most noticeable.
And once you are done with this, then, of course, you need to list down the red flags that you see on your child based on the list of ASD red flags.
On this part, it is very important that you, your spouse or the caregiver have the same observation on these red flags. The goal is to take note of what is noticeable in the eyes of the people who your child spends most of the time with. You will find that in some cases, you notice this sign and maybe your spouse doesn’t notice that at all. So, label these red flags accordingly (i.e. Always seen, Sometimes, Observed once) so your Dev Ped will have a better diagnosis.
Having said that, be objective of what you will report to your Dev Ped. Don’t try to hide red flags. Again, the goal here is to help your child and not telling what you observe , of course, will not benefit your child in the long run.
3. List Down What Your Child Can/Can’t Do
List down what your child can do especially in terms of his/her self-help skills. Though you may not expect much from a two year old compared to someone who is four years old, it’s always better to have this list of activities that s/he can or can’t do.
Here are some examples:
Can your child already drink from a cup or glass?
Can your child dress and undress on his/her own? Can your child wear his/her socks?
Can your child talk? What are the words?
Can your child say if s/he needs to pee or poop? Is s/he still on diaper?
4. List Down your Child’s Behavior
This list may be helpful to give info to your Dev Ped. of your child’s social skills and general behavior as well.
Here are some examples:
How is your child during family gatherings or parties?
Does your child play with other kids?
Does your child respond when s/he is being called?
Does your child have eye contact?
5. List Down Your Child’s Diet
The Dev. Ped. may or may not voluntarily talk to you about this but if you have any concerns if your child is getting the nutrients s/he needs, I strongly encourage you to list down all the food that your child eats. This may also help the Dev. Ped. to orient you further on what to do in case your child has some food sensitivities.
Write it down on a nice paper with legible writing so your Dev. Ped. can easily browse through it and give you the proper recommendations (if any).
6. List Down The Activities Of Your Child
List down your child’s activities so the Dev. Ped. can give you recommendations on what things you may need to add (or lessen) to his/her daily routine.
Break it down to general activities like :
Does your child go to school?
What are your child's physical activities?
How often is s/he using gadgets?
How many hours does s/he watch TV?
Also, write down his/her routines in the morning, afternoon and evening.
7. Bring Your Medical Records and Your Child’s
Definitely a must especially if your child has some other medical conditions. Also, bring any medical reports at the time you conceived and when you gave birth to your child.
8. Research Your Family Background on Autism
Your doctor may ask you if you know someone from your family or relatives with the same condition. Though this may not really be important (at least to us parents), information like this may be helpful to your doctor. So, have this ready, only if you can.
9. Research and Ask Your Dev. Ped. About Their Views on Controversial Topics
These “controversial topics” may either confuse or overwhelm you later because of the conflicting opinions that you will receive from different Developmental Pediatricians, General Pediatricians, parents plus contents that you will read on the internet.
That is why I recommend that you ask these things to your Dev. Ped. when you visit because as you know it may take months before you will be given the chance to speak with your Dev. Ped. again.
I encourage you to ask your Dev. Ped. about his/her views on the following:
Gluten-Free/Casein-Free or GFCF diet
Vitamins and Supplements specific for Autism (if any)
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy vs. Occupational & Speech Therapy
Other related conditions that you should look out for like epilepsy, gastrointestinal issues, sleep disorder, depression
10. Your Questions
There may be other questions in your mind that you need to ask the Dev. Ped. so I encourage you to write it down because there will be a great chance that you will forget about it when you’re already there.
What to Expect
1. Your Child Will be Assessed
After the Q&A, the Dev. Ped will do some "tests" with your child to check his/her skills and behavior. The Dev. Ped will use mostly toys and things used in daily living (ADL objects) to assess your child.
Typically, the Dev. Ped. will allow one (1) hour to do the Q&A and the assessment. But some Dev. Ped. are very much considerate and will actually give you more time especially if this will be the first visit. They know you will have lots of questions about your child’s case.
3. Be Ready For Tests
Depending on the result of the test that the Dev. Ped. will facilitate to your child, if your child will be suspected to have ASD, the Dev. Ped. will most likely recommend the following:
Do Hearing and/or Vision Tests - this is to rule out that your child may have hearing/vision problems and to make sure that your child will be able to respond to therapy sessions.
Electroencephalogram (EEG) - this is mainly to check if your child has epilepsy which is a related disorder to some cases.
You will be referred to Therapists. If the Developmental Pediatrician would confirm that your child has developmental delays, s/he will recommend your child to undergo Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy. These are the two main therapies suggested. Physical therapy may depend on your child’s condition.
Please know that generally, it is advisable to do Occupational Therapy first before Speech Therapy. This is to ensure that your child has developed the ability to focus that is required for speech therapy to be effective.
Aside from the things mentioned above, I think the most important one that you should prepare is yourself (and your spouse, of course!).
First thing, know that both of you (including your child) will be working as a team. This is nobody’s fault.
Secondly, know that the diagnosis is there just to help us understand our child’s condition and behavior. It is there just to plan out what kind of support will our child need.
Please know that the diagnosis does NOT define our child. It can’t tell/predict what our child is capable of in the future.
Lastly, the only way that we can help our child is by accepting the diagnosis. It is a process and for some parents, it may take some time.
But being consciously aware that this is the most important thing that we can do for our child will definitely help us and our family to see this as a gift. Only through that way, we can be one with our child and be able to make him/her feel that we are on this beautiful journey together.
Do you have any questions about what to expect in your first appointment with your Developmental Pediatrician? Or maybe you have additional tips on how to prepare for this first visit. Please share your thoughts below.