What is Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics?

Developmental-behavioral pediatricians are pediatricians who have special understanding and training in developmental, behavioral, and learning problems of children from infancy through adolescence. A fairly recent specialty, officially recognized in the early 2000?s, developmental-behavioral pediatrics has grown rapidly and seen wide demand along with increased rates of autism spectrum disorders and other developmental and behavioral issues.

While a general pediatrician must concern themselves with all kinds of ailments that might affect children, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician is able to focus strictly on those problems that cause developmental delays or problematic behavior. This is still a very wide variety of disorders, but it may include:
  • Learning disabilities, such as dyslexia
  • Attention and behavior disorders, such as ADHD or oppositional-defiant disorder
  • Habit disorders, such as tics and Tourette syndrome
  • Regulatory disorders, such as problems with sleeping, eating, or toileting
  • Developmental disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, autism, or fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Delayed development, such as delayed speech and delayed motor skills

Regardless of the diagnosis, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician offers most families the same essential service: evaluation, diagnosis, education and information, resources, and treatment. Because there are so many developmental-behavioral disorders, and children may have more than one at a time, each treatment plan is highly individualized for that specific child. It may include behavior modification therapy, access to specialists, medication, occupational therapy, or a variety of other treatments. One of the most important parts of treatment that a developmental-behavioral pediatrician can offer is education. Teaching a child, their parents, their teachers, and others about a child?s diagnosis helps everyone manage symptoms better.

Developmental or behavioral disorders can be frustrating or even frightening for children and their families. A developmental-behavioral pediatrician can help families get a handle on these issues, making sure all kids have the opportunity to reach their full potential.