Working with a developmental paediatrician: a framework over time for children with complex developmental needs
It can be incredibly confusing for parents and carers when your child needs extra help to meet their particular developmental challenges. It might seem like you have to learn a completely new language, on top of having to navigate different health and educational systems just to be able to access the help that your child needs. It can also be incredibly expensive, making it financially stressful as well.
So to help parents feel more organised and structured in how to work through the process – and it is a process, like anything else – here's one way to approach this particular challenge in looking after a developmentally complex child.
- Do we understand what is going on for your child? Do your child's particular strengths and difficulties explain what is happening at school, academically, at home, socially or elsewhere?
- What resources do we need to mobilise to support your child in the short and long term?
- Who do you need in your 'team around the child'?
- How do we set up a coordinated approach with clear goals/priorities across people and environments?
- What are your long term goals for your child?
This list is a place to start when you first discover that your child is likely to need extra support, and a place to return, when new challenges arise, things aren't going so well or there are transitions ahead. You need to have these things set up as well as possible, to make sure that the significant time and effort and resources you bring to the process are giving you and your child the best chance and best results possible. It is really common to invest a lot of time, finances and effort in therapies or education plans that are not well suited to your child's particular needs, or not well coordinated, or not the most efficient use of resources. Every child with a complex developmental presentation should have someone in their team helping you manage these types of questions and reviewing the 'bigger picture' – whether it be your developmental paediatrician or someone else who you feel confident doing this with you.
Dr Andrea McGlade
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