What Is a Developmental Pediatrician

A developmental pediatrician, sometimes referred to as a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, is someone who works with children who have medical and psychosocial needs. They work with a wide range of children, but some may advertise a certain area of expertise.

Qualifications and General Role

In order to become developmental pediatricians, individuals must have completed four years of medical school and three years of pediatrics residency, must have obtained board certification in pediatrics, and must have received additional subspecialty training in developmental and behavioral pediatrics through clinical practice or through a combination of classroom and clinical practice. Their primary roles are to evaluate, diagnose, and treat children who have a wide range of behavioral and/or developmental difficulties.

Developmental and Behavioral Difficulties

Although they work with children who have a variety of developmental or behavioral issues, some of the most common reasons for a referral to a developmental pediatrician include:

• Tourette’s syndrome and other disorders involving voluntary or involuntary habits.

• Sleep disorders, difficulties in toilet training, bedwetting, soiling, feeding problems, and general disciplinary difficulties.

• Common developmental disabilities including spina bifida, autism spectrum disorders, and visual and/or hearing impairments.

• Delayed development of things such as thinking ability, motor skills, speech and language.

• Learning disorders such as dyslexia, difficulties with writing, trouble with mathematics, and other issues that may cause problems for school-aged children.

• Any other behavioral or developmental problem that may interfere with the treatment of pediatric conditions and chronic illnesses such as asthma, cancer, epilepsy, and others.

Where They Practice

For the most part, a developmental pediatrician can practice in any environment in which any other physician would practice. This includes hospitals, clinics, private practices, schools, and even community health centers. They almost always work hand-in-hand with an entire team of individuals who are dedicated to providing treatment to their patients, and this includes psychologists, neurologists, assistants, social workers, teachers, psychiatrists, and others. The majority of them are located in urban areas, in both large metro and suburban areas, since this is where the greatest demand for their services exists.

Their Role in a Child’s Life

These individuals also play a huge role in the lives of their patients and their patients’ families. This is because caregivers are often the first to notice an issue, and much of the treatment that is required to correct an issue starts at home and in school. For this reason, a developmental pediatrician often works hand-in-hand with teachers, parents, caregivers and social workers to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to understanding the reasons for the problems, whether or not any disabilities or conditions can be treated, and handling those issues both at home and at school. This is important for the overall well-being of the child and regular “team meetings” are to be expected.

The career of a developmental pediatrician can certainly be a complex one because of the many difficulties that children can face and the many people who are responsible for providing care. As such, these individuals must be highly detail-oriented, focused, and able to communicate with ease.