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Early Diagnosis Aids Children with Developmental Delays

Child development screenings are recommended at 9, 18 and 30 months.
BMC evaluates and diagnoses children using a three-visit
comprehensive consultative approach.

Developmental and behavioral challenges are extremely common and can isolate children and their families, compound the obstacles they face in daily life and hinder their capacity to grow into independent adulthood. Fortunately, early detection is on the rise due to comprehensive primary care as well as recent guidelines that recommend general development screenings at 9, 18 and 30 months and autism-specific screenings at 18 and 24 months.

Children and their parents can receive expert diagnostic services at the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics of Boston Medical Center. With an emphasis on early intervention, the Division’s “Three within Three” program evaluates children aged three or younger within three weeks of referral.

As a specialty clinic, the Division evaluates the child and recommends treatment in collaboration with the primary care physician. Division Director Marilyn Augustyn, MD, is one of six board-certified developmental and behavioral pediatricians at BMC who evaluate patients for a wide variety of disabilities including autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and other learning and cognitive disabilities; gross and fine motor and communication disorders; developmental impact of closed head injuries and cerebral palsy; and emotional and behavioral problems such as colic, temper tantrums and PTSD.

The Division’s three-visit consultation begins with a parent/guardian interview and a review of the child’s medical and school history. The second session is a cognitive-behavioral evaluation of the child. In the third meeting, the BMC clinician discusses diagnosis and treatment with the family. Prior to the referral a full audiologic evaluation and vision screen is recommended.

“We do the evaluation ourselves,” says Dr. Augustyn, a leader in this new pediatric subspecialty and co-editor of The Zuckerman Parker Handbook of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics for Primary Care. “Our three-part diagnostic model enables us to know the patient and family well.”

Autism specialists in the Division’s Autism Resource Center guide families in managing treatment and support from schools and other community organizations. “Our approach centers on the patient and family and extends to the community,” says Dr. Augustyn. “We maintain strong relationships with public agencies and schools in complex settings to support our families and accelerate positive outcomes.” Additionally, BMC is founding member of the Autism Consortium, a coalition of the region’s major teaching hospitals.

Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics is part of the Pediatric Specialty Group at BMC providing high quality comprehensive and compassionate care to children, adolescents and young adults, including: Asthma/Allergy, Cardiology, Diabetes, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Genetics, Growth & Nutrition, Hematology, Infectious Disease, International Health & Travel, Menstrual Disorders, Sleep Disorders and Neurology.