Medical Specialties

About Developmental-Behavioral Pediatricians

What is a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician?

A developmental-behavioral pediatrician is a board-certified pediatrician who has received further training in the subspecialty of DBPeds. During these additional 2 - 3 years of study, the focus is on:

  • Child development and behavior
  • Learning to integrate other subspecialties
  • Accessing community services
  • Advocating for children
  • Evaluating the child as part of the whole family

When is a child seen by a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician?

We see children from birth to 18 years who are referred to us generally by their primary physician, but sometimes by a teacher, therapist, friend, or other health professional. 

A child may be having difficulty either at home, school, or both. These difficulties vary and may include areas of behavior, attention, learning, motor coordination, and other areas of development in cognitive, speech and language, social-emotional, and self-help skills. A child may also have feelings of frustration, anger, and sadness.   

These specialists evaluate and treat children for the following conditions:

  • ADHD
  • Attachment disorder
  • Autism and other pervasive developmental disorders
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Communication disorder
  • Enuresis, encopresis
  • Developmental delays
  • Failure to thrive
  • History of abuse and/or neglect
  • Intellectual disability   
  • In utero drug and alcohol exposure
  • Learning disabilities
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Prematurity and complications from prematurity
  • Sensory impairments

Many times, other diagnoses may coexist, such as anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

What is the evaluation process?

The first part of the evaluation process is a history that includes medical, developmental, behavioral, social, and family history. All of this information is vital to evaluating the WHOLE child and understanding how this child fits into this particular family, community, and school.

Interviewing the child is important for gathering information about their feelings, perceptions, and mood. It’s also helpful to have input from the teachers, therapists, and other healthcare professionals. 

Physical and neurological examinations are part of the evaluation process. A developmental assessment may include a variety of standardized tests, questionnaires, observations, and demonstrations. These evaluations may be formal, with the child, or informal, by observing the child at play and interacting with parents and the examiner. 

What happens after an evaluation?

After this extensive evaluation, the developmental-behavioral pediatrician discusses their impressions and recommendations with the parents. These recommendations may include:

  • Further evaluation with other specialists
  • Therapeutic intervention (physical, occupational and /or speech and language therapy)
  • Hearing and/or vision assessments
  • Community resource referrals
  • Laboratory tests, X-rays, and MRIs
  • Counseling and behavior management techniques

The goal is always to understand each child’s strengths and needs, to determine what is typical and what is not, and to access services to help a child grow and develop to the best of their ability.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and people succeed in life when they learn how to build on their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. A developmental-behavioral pediatrician strives to help children with special needs do the same!

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