Last month, I wrote about Does My Child Have Developmental Delay? Signs I need to watch out for. If your child does have developmental delays and despite hesitation and fear, you’ve finally decided to set an appointment with a Developmental Pediatrician, your mind is probably exploding with questions and what-ifs. To ease your mind and calm your heart, I’ve gathered some information both from Developmental Pediatrician Dr. Pauline Camposano, and some moms who have gone through the same experience.
First off, let’s talk about what to expect during the first visit. According to Dr. Camposano, the first visit to your DevPed would likely involve eliciting concerns regarding your child and gathering background information that could contribute to current concerns such as birth/maternal history, medical history, family history, and psychosocial context. The doctor would also ask about your child’s developmental history as one of the main points in a developmental consult. Observation and evaluation, as well as Initial Assessment and Management Planning may also be done depending on your child’s age and nature of concerns. It is important to know however that a diagnosis may not always be given on the first visit especially if additional information is required. Dr. Camposano also adds that although most of the DevPed consults are referred by pediatricians and teachers, parents may also opt to go directly to see them.
Now that you have an idea what to expect, here are some tips from moms who have gone through this experience.
Choose your DevPed carefully.
Your child’s Developmental Pediatrician will be your partner in this journey, so choose someone both you and your child are comfortable with. It is important that parents and caregivers are at ease with asking questions or gathering information, in order to fully understand the treatment program. Do your research by asking fellow parents, teachers, or your pediatrician.
Prepare your questions beforehand.
Instead of filling your head with all sorts of questions only to forget them during the actual consult (because of overwhelming emotions), note down your questions as they come to you then ask them when you see the doctor. Some of the questions that you can ask could be around causes, diets, kinds and duration of therapies needed, alternatives, support needed from caregivers, etc.
Recall the past.
As mentioned previously, maternal/birth and development history are important information that your Developmental Pediatrician will ask you about. It would help to recall and maybe even note down key points you remember about the time you were pregnant, you gave birth, as well as your child’s developmental milestones.
It’s a family affair.
For better understanding of the situation and the program needed, it would be best that both parents (and preferably the primary caregiver) would be present during the visit. This will help you ensure that you’ve asked all the questions you have, and that everyone is on the same page in terms of what is expected and what should be done as part of the treatment program.
And finally, here are some reassuring words from Dr. Camposano for all parents or caregivers who are understandably going through a rollercoaster of emotions during this time.
“First, ask yourself where those fears are coming from. Are we afraid of our child being labelled? Of other people misunderstanding and judging them? Of the uncertainty of the future? Getting to the root of our anxieties and just being aware of them will help us confront them in turn.
“Second, understand that uncertainty is a big part of that fear. Fear is often our reaction to things that are unknown and cast in shadow. Being afraid is normal. Getting professional help is taking that first step towards the light.
“Third, a label does not make our child. Getting a diagnosis will not change who our child is. Though it will help enlighten us by giving reasons for his/her challenges and strengths, our child is more than that. They are their own unique imprint. A diagnosis should not limit what our child can do or be, but identify those areas that he/she will need additional help in.
“Also, we must learn to choose what to tune into and what to tune out of. No doubt, even before coming in for a consult, well-intentioned but unhelpful people have given their two cents-worth about your child. Unless the words are coming from a person whom you trust or someone who direclty takes care of your child, then these are noise.
“Lastly, take it one day at a time. The journey towards acceptance, understanding, and progress is a marathon, not a race. Our child’s future doesn’t depend on a diagnosis, but on what we do day in and day out consistently and mindfully.”
Special thanks to Dr. Pauline Camposano, a Developmental Pediatrician at ManilaMed (UN Avenue) and QualiMed Bulacan, and moms Lenni and Kamille for their inputs.