How to Choose a Specialist For Your Child

Developmental pediatricians perform a physical examination,looking for the medical causes of problems. They evaluate physical growth, motor development, and nutritional needs. They are skilled in screening for cognitive and speech and language delays. They also assess social and emotional development along with adaptive development. A typical initial evaluation with a developmental pediatrician is comprehensive and lengthy, and it is not uncommon for the appointment to last two hours or more.

Because they are experts in the complete development of children, they take a team approach to the child and will typically advise parents to seek additional evaluation and treatment with various other professionals. They can usually provide referrals to such specialists and can coordinate with each professional, serving as a case manager who keeps an eye on the overall treatment plan for your child.


A child psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of childhood and adolescent behavioral and psychological disorders. Psychiatrists generally allow for at least one hour interviews in their evaluation, with an eye toward the diagnosis and determination of medication needs.

The majority of psychiatrists prescribe medication as their sole form of treatment and do not provide psychotherapy or behavioral treatment. Many psychiatrists, however, will educate parents regarding the need for psychological and behavioral treatment. After the initial evaluation, the psychiatrist will schedule follow-up appointments to assess the effectiveness and the side effects of the medication. Once the medication is stable,most psychiatrists will have follow-up appointments every three to six months.