A pediatrician will often be kidded for primarily taking care of colds, ear infections, and the routine vomiting/diarrhea illnesses. Throw in the occasional "zebra diagnosis" and a few well child care visits and most people think they've captured the daily routine of a pediatrician. But in today's pediatric landscape, the Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), which include Autism, Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, PDD-Not Otherwise Specified (NOS), now maintain an overwhelming presence.
For those with children, I assume you know of what I speak. In fact, at every child's well child care exam, your child's pediatrician should be devoting a good portion of the exam to appropriate developmental milestones. In my office, along with some of my own developmental questions, a questionnaire (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers-MCHAT) is answered by the parents at both the 15 and 18 month appointments to assist in identifying any potential developmental issues. Now whether your pediatrician uses the MCHAT or another developmental screen is not as important as something needs to be used. And, by the way, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends a screening tool be used at all 9, 18, and 24 or 30 month well child care visits or at any visits where a developmental concern is noted.
So why the big deal of early screening? Well, we all have seen the talk shows and perused the books at our disposal these days. And although I may not agree with all of the viewpoints that are made (feel free to check out an earlier blog "Autism, Vaccines, and More" (http://dailystrength.org/blog/52-autism-vaccines-and-more) for more of my take on autism and vaccines), I do appreciate a common theme that everyone seems to share: Early Intervention (EI) is the key to maximizing not only your child's development but also his/her eventual benefit to and within society. And believe me when I say the research validates this claim.
In years past, parents, teachers, and doctors alike may have brushed aside the importance of making an accurate PDD diagnosis, and consequently, prevented the timeliness of appropriate care and therapy. This should no longer be the case. If your child's physician is not spending adequate time discussing and screening your child's development, either you need to be the one who brings this to the physician's attention or you need to find one who will. Your child deserves this.