Developmental pediatricians perform a physical examination and look for the medical causes of problems. They assess physical growth, motor development and nutritional needs. They are able to identify cognitive and language delays. They also assess social and emotional development and adaptive skills.
A typical initial evaluation with a developmental pediatrician is comprehensive and lengthy, and it’s not uncommon for the appointment to last two hours or longer. Because they are experts in overall child development, they treat the child as a team and usually advise parents to seek further evaluation and treatment from a variety of other professionals. They can usually make referrals to such specialists and coordinate with each of them, acting as a case manager to keep track of the entire treatment plan for your child.
A child psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of behavioral and mental health problems in children and adolescents. Psychiatrists usually have at least one-hour consultations to make a diagnosis and determine the need for medication.
Most psychiatrists prescribe medication as the only form of treatment and do not offer psychotherapy or behavioral therapy. However, many psychiatrists educate parents about the need for psychological and behavioral treatment. After the initial evaluation, the psychiatrist schedules follow-up appointments to assess the effectiveness and side effects of the medication. Once medication is stable, most psychiatrists schedule follow-up appointments every three to six months.
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