Does my child have a special need?

Terry Mauro from www.about.com has written one of the best articles that we’ve found regarding trying to decide if there is or isn’t a problem with your child. The following information is taken directly from her article.

Getting a Diagnosis: The First Step Toward Helping Your Child

A diagnosis doesn’t change your child, it explains your child. It may be scary or hard to accept, but the right diagnosis can lead you to information, therapy, technology and services that can greatly improve the quality of life for your child and your family. Here’s how to find the answers you need.

Step 1: Take Notes
Step 2: Talk to Your Pediatrician
Step 3: Do Your Research
Step 4: Consult With Specialists
Step 5: Keep Seeking Answers

Step 1: Take Notes

Become the foremost researcher on your child, examining your subject in a variety of different environments and documenting all irregularities. If your child has recurring odd actions that alarm you, keep a diary of what, when and how long. If your child has emotional breakdowns or explosions, keep a chart to see if you can identify what sets them off. You want to be able to specifically document your concerns so that doctors have the most accurate idea of what’s going on and can make the most assured steps toward a diagnosis.

Step 2: Talk to Your Pediatrician

Chances are, your health insurer will require you to go through your pediatrician before tests and specialist visits anyway. But it’s just as well, because your child’s regular doctor will likely have useful insights and advice to give you. While you’re the ultimate expert in your child, the pediatrician is probably the medical professional who knows your child best — certainly better than the specialists who will pop in for a short time, look at one aspect of your child’s life, and see you again in a year. A good pediatrician with whom you have a comfortable rapport is a helpful person to have filtering all those reports and test results and guiding you as to what to do about them.

Step 3: Do Your Research

If your pediatrician shares your concerns, you may be referred on to a specialist for further questioning, examining, and testing. You’ll want to do that immediately, but the specialist’s schedule may not cooperate; months-long waits are not uncommon. Fill the time by doing some research about your own and your pediatrician’s suspicions. You may have done a little research before, but now instead of looking for general ossibilities, you’ll want to look into the specific dagnosis or diagnoses being investigated. This furry of fact-digging has two good effects: It makes you more prepared to speak to the specialist, and it passes all that interminable time.

Step 4: Consult With Specialists

You’ve talked with the pediatrician. You’ve taken your notes and done your research, and now you’re meeting with the big kahuna who can actually give you answers as to what’s going on with your child. That’s what you hope for, anyway. Specialists may do detailed examinations, order extensive and expensive tests, and present you with a diagnosis and a prognosis. Or they may give your child a cursory look, make some vague pronouncements, and send you scurrying to the next intimidating professional. If you’re prepared — with research and questions and specific observations about your child — you may be able to get enough of an answer to run with, even if a specific diagnosis is elusive.

Step 5: Keep Seeking Answers

A diagnosis is in many ways the start of the story. It may get fine-tuned as your child grows and develops. It may turn out to be inexact or flat-out inaccurate. Doctors may wind up re-classifying children like yours, eliminating one diagnosis or moving a block of children over to another one. Seek a diagnosis now, but don’t stop seeking information. With your focus on one child and one disability, you may be able to keep up on current research and practices better than your doctor. Read the news, surf the Net, network with other parents, and collaborate with the professionals in your child’s life. Be your own specialist.