Accessing the Right Healthcare Professionals
Diagnosing autism is a difficult task since there is really no test that can identify and confirm it. Parents of children with autism find themselves consulting different kinds of doctors and subjecting their children to numerous types of screening and diagnostic procedures in order to diagnose or rule out autism.
When parents start to notice changes in their child’s behavior, especially in the early years of life, they immediately consult their child’s pediatrician. This is the most appropriate thing to do since pediatricians are healthcare professionals who specialize in assessing, diagnosing, and treating diseases that are commonly seen in children from birth up to the young adult stage. They are experts when it comes to the standard overall developmental growth of children as well as the deviations that may occur.
Sometimes pediatricians give referrals to other clinicians for concerns that they are not fully trained to manage. For instance, a pediatrician may refer you to a child neurologist for a neurological deficit such as spina bifida or brain structural anomalies. Neurologists are healthcare professionals whose expertise lies in the nervous system that covers anything to do with the brain, spine, and nerves. A neurologist is a right clinician to prescribe an electroencephalogram (EEG) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of your child’s spinal cord.
A child psychologist or psychiatrist on the other hand may be referred by your pediatrician about concerns regarding the human mind. A child psychologist is a person who provides counseling for mental and emotional disorders such as depression. A clinical psychologist is a person who is qualified by graduate study in psychology that can provide assessment, testing, and treatment of mental and emotional disorders. A child psychiatrist, on the other hand, is a physician that has additional medically qualified training and experience in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders such as schizophrenia.
There are instances that your general practitioner is the one you consult for concerns about your child. The general practitioner would usually refer you to a child developmental pediatrician. A developmental pediatrician is the right health professional if a parent is seeking a primary clinician who has formal training in caring for children with special needs just as autism does to a child. They are pediatricians who are knowledgeably equipped to handle developmental delays that are caused by disorders such as autism.
Autism usually renders your child incapable of carrying conversational language due to speech deficiency. A speech pathologist is a right professional to consult in order to develop your child’s speech, language, and communication skills.
Dealing with autism means dealing with constant screenings and therapies that sometimes can be overwhelming for both child and parents, but consulting with the right personnel and engaging in the right therapies suitable for your child and your family definitely lessens the stress and frustration of living with autism.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. cdc.gov: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Retrieved March 24, 2011, from cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html
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