I know this is a matter of contention and confusion among parents with special needs children. The first professional your that your child is most likely to visit is a developmental pediatrician. Many parents often do not know what to expect.
A developmental pediatrician goes through 4 years of training in medical school, three years of residency training in pediatrics, and a subspecialty training in developmental behavioural paediatrics. They are trained to diagnose a wide range of developmental delays. You can often find them in hospitals.
Developmental paediatricians are usually found in hospitals. They have a long waitlist. They charge around Php 2000 to Php 4000 on average. The hours depend on the assessment. Not all doctors charge the same amount. It is better to ask how much the doctor charges before you do go and set that appointment. I find it best to call several hospitals and ask for phone numbers to get an idea of what rate you can expect.
Mainstream developmental paediatricians often recommend Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy (depending on the child’s diagnosis). They can also suggest the specialty schools or therapy centers that may benefit your child. With certain cases, they may recommend medication.
Some doctors may ask you to visit once or twice a year for updates and assessments.
We were able to get a list of helpful tips from parents who have gone to Developmental Pediatricians.
- 1. Get a referral.
Sometimes it’s easier to get referrals from parents/schools/teachers who have are familiar with Developmental Pediatricians . It gives you can idea of what to expect during the meeting. If you don’t know anyone, try searching parent forums and check out comments of parents on doctors.
- 2. Call up reputable hospitals to get a listing of their doctors
- 3. Pre-screen
a). Ask about the doctor’s availability.
Are you going to be waitlisted? How long is the waitlist? Ask yourself if you are willing to wait that long. There are more developmental pediatricians now than before. If you really suspect a problem with your child, try getting the 1st available slot. Follow up if you have to. Remember, early intervention is still the best.
b). Ask about the doctor’s rates
This is tricky. Some doctors charge per hour. Some doctors don’t. I know one clueless parent who got carried by away talking about her child. Her eyes literally bugged when she saw how big her bill was. It pays to know if you’ll be billed by the hour or if you’ll be billed a fixed rate. It also helps to ask about rates, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
c). Ask whether the doctor issues reports
This is another point of contention. Some doctors do and some doctors don’t. Better be upfront. Make it clear to the doctor’s secretary that you need a formal report/diagnosis before you make an appointment whether it is for the school or the therapy center.
The reports are often handwritten one pagers. Some doctors’ may provide a 1 to 2 page typewritten assessment. Please remember to ask the doctor’s secretary as to what kind of reports you can expect to receive and how much time it takes on average for them to release a report- before confirming your appointment.
Don’t forget to ask how much the doctor charges for the additional report. Note, this used to be free of charge, but a number of doctors now charge for their typewritten reports.
- 4. Choose your Doctor
Referrals are important. It pays to do research. It pays a lot to know about your doctor’s attitude towards clients. Is he the nurturing and empathic type? Or does she come across as traditional and blunt to a point?
How the doctor communicates the problem to the parent is very important. Good feedback from other parents is critical. It saves you both time and money.
If you don’t have a referral from a trusted person, do your research. Check reviews on doctors. Call up doctor’s secretaries to get the availability, rates and find out about the doctor’s willingness to issue reports.
- 5. Don’t be late for your appointment.
You’ve waited long enough. The last thing you want is to get bumped off your slot because you didn’t make enough allowance to arrive on time.
- 6. Keep notes and file reports
Make sure to list down what your doctor advices you to do for your child. It will form an essential part of your child’s records in the future.