Children with developmental delay may be referred to several specialists. Some of the specialists your child may see include the following.
Pediatrician/Family Care Provider: In addition to taking care of your child's general health needs such as routine well child checks, sick visits and immunizations, your pediatrician/family care provider can help you seek the appropriate services for your child. Some children see a variety of specialists, which can be overwhelming. Your pediatrician/family care provider can help you sort through the information and recommendations of all the specialists and advocate for your child's needs.
Pediatric Neurologist: When a child is delayed, it may simply because he or she is immature and developing at a slower pace. Some children, however, are delayed because of a problem with the nervous system which includes the brain, the spinal cord, the nerves, and the muscles. A pediatric neurologist will assess your child for problems of the nervous system and suggest therapeutic interventions to help your child attain developmental skills.
Developmental Pediatrician: A developmental pediatrician will assess your child for difficulties in all areas of development including gross motor, fine motor, speech, learning, social, emotional, and behavior. If problems are identified, a developmental pediatrician can help you understand your child's needs and recommend appropriate educational and therapeutic interventions to help your child attain developmental skills. Developmental-behavioral pediatricians understand that children's development and behavior happen first and foremost in the context of the family. They seek to understand the family's view of the problem and the effect of the child's problem on the family. Developmental-behavioral pediatricians advocate for their patients with developmental and behavioral problems by working closely with schools, preschools, and other agencies involved with developmental care and education.
Child Psychiatrist: is a medical doctor trained in the care of children with behavioral and emotional difficulties. A psychiatrist uses knowledge of biological, psychological, and social factors in working with patients and their families. A psychiatrist may recommend behavioral interventions, counseling, or medication.
Social Worker: has special training assessing the emotional and physical needs of children and their families. A social worker may provide counseling and identify supports.
Physical Therapist: will evaluate your child for weakness, muscle tone, and difficulties with gross motor skills. A physical therapist may suggest stretching and strengthening exercises. They can also prescribe adaptive equipment such as braces, walking aides, and special seating.
Occupational Therapist: can evaluate your child for hand weakness, abnormal muscle tone, sensory problems, and difficulties with fine motor tasks that require the coordination of the small hand muscles. Some occupational therapists also can assess and treat for feeding problems. An occupational therapist may prescribe strengthening and stretching exercises of the hands, adaptive equipment, and sensory therapy.
Speech Therapist: can evaluate and treat children with delayed speech and poor oral control.
Neuropsychologist: performs tests of memory, attention, intelligence, and emotional state. A neuropsychologist will determine what strategies and educational services are needed to maximize a child's academic success.
Child Psychologist: a psychologist helps children with behavioral and emotional problems. A psychologist provides counseling but does not prescribe medication.