Where to start? Part 1: the medical world
So far, posts in this blog have been a little scattershot. This is because I’ve been trying to show the range of topics that the blog can cover. Now it’s time to spend some time at the beginning, when you acknowledge your child isn’t functioning well, in school and/or in life. S/he needs help beyond what you can provide. Where do you start?
This post will address things on the medical side; an upcoming post will deal with school issues.
Here are some tips, based on our experience:
- Talk to your child’s doctor. Pediatricians have knowledge about psychological and neurological issues, and what help is available locally. The pediatrician can offer suggestions on what to try at home (changes in diet, exercise, etc) before taking it to the next level (medication, therapy.)
- We were cautious about trying meds first thing, so we were more open to starting with trying dietary supplements. There’s controversy about supplements, just like there is about medication. In theory, they both are geared to achieving a better balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Here are two websites I’ve visited regarding supplements: Amen Clinic and Pain and Stress Center. (To me, both of these websites look a little cheesy, but their products are OK. At Pain and Stress Center, check out the product called Teen Link.) Many local stores carry similar products.
- Check your insurance provider’s website. If it’s anything like ours, it’ll have a ton of information about all kinds of conditions. It’ll help you figure out what may be covered by your insurance, and help you find a local specialist.
- If you suspect AD/HD, and your pediatrician isn’t equipped to make that diagnosis, you may be directed to have your child evaluated by a child/adolescent psychologist. Be aware that psychologists don’t prescribe medication. They can evaluate, and they can provide counseling and other therapies. Psychiatrists prescribe medication. Some psychiatrists may provide counseling also, but these have been rare in our experience.
- Psychiatrists specializing in youth are scarce, and “good ones” are even scarcer. If it looks like your child might need one, don’t delay in trying to set up an appointment, as you may have to wait weeks or months.
- If you suspect your child may be on the autism spectrum, you’ll probably be directed to a pediatric neurologist for evaluation. They also seem to be scarce, so here as well you may be facing a long wait for an appointment. There are some psychologists who are qualified to diagnose and/or treat youth on the autism spectrum. Here are two that I’ve dealt with: Dr. Brian Chicester in Redlands, and Dr. Richard Kotomori in Riverside.
- KEEP RECORDS of doctors and therapists you have visited and when. KEEP RECORDS of which supplements or medications your child has tried, what the dosage was, and for how long. (I created a spreadsheet that I could update as needed, and had a printout of it handy at each new appointment.) Maybe you’ll be able to find the optimal pills right off the bat, but more commonly it takes a lot of trial and error, and it becomes tough to remember all the details. Every specialist your child sees down the line, and many of the programs you may apply for, will want this information. It’s a drag, but it’ll help the people helping your child.