Doctors Urged To Broaden Care For Children With Disabilities
Pediatricians are being encouraged to consider more than the medical issues in front of them when treating kids with special needs.
In new guidance out this week, the American Academy of Pediatrics is advising doctors to pay attention to outside factors ranging from housing to school and money issues that could affect the health of children with developmental disabilities and other conditions.
Specifically, the pediatricians’ group says that physicians should regularly assess the social-emotional state of kids with special health care needs as well as their parents or caregivers.
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In addition, doctors should work with child care providers and school staff to promote attendance and academic performance. Pediatricians should also advocate for and connect families to community-based resources like respite and palliative care to ensure that children have the supports they need, the guidance said.
On a practical level, the American Academy of Pediatrics indicated that physicians ought to offer flexible payments for families who may already be financially strapped.
The clinical report notes that an increasing number of American children — nearly 20 percent — are now considered to have special health care needs.
“Children and families who have special health care needs are more likely to face emotional or psychological challenges, financial problems, difficulties in school and staying motivated in studies and bullying,” said Gerri Mattson, a pediatrician who served as lead author of the report.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics urges pediatricians to promote protective psychosocial factors as part of a coordinated comprehensive care for children with special needs and their families,” Mattson said. “A team-based approach with community partners such as child care and schools can help with the mitigation of risk factors and promotion of protective factors such as healthy parenting techniques, stress reduction and social services, to increase resiliency.”