Which specialists can help my child with developmental issues?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
If you and your doctor do determine that your child has some developmental issues, you may be referred to a medical specialist (pediatric neurologist or developmental-behavioral pediatrician) or psychological specialist to determine a diagnosis and a possible cause and the need for further evaluation. Or your doctor may simply refer you directly to a therapist to work on specific problems. Early intervention using experts trained in child therapy is important; seeing the right specialist can help your child get on track. Besides your doctor and interested individuals at your local hospital, a teacher may also have good recommendations. The three major kinds of specialists include:



  • PHYSICAL THERAPISTS: They evaluate the gross motor development skills such as walking by looking at physical capacities and limitations. Therapy includes not only play, but also exercise and behavioral training, as well as equipment or devices if necessary.
  • OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS: They look at fine motor skills and upper extremity use, as well as sensory processing function. They'll also use various equipment and training methods to help teach these developmental skills.
  • SPEECH THERAPISTS: They assess language skills and work on developing speech, vocabulary, understanding the meaning of words, and using sentences. (Hearing should also be assessed whenever there are speech issues.)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.