We met with Brittany Smith co-owner of Jump Ahead Pediatrics in Jersey City to talk about how you decide whether your child actually needs to see an Occupational Therapist. As a mum herself she had great suggestions for questions you need to ask your pediatrician to figure out what type of care your child might need and when.
Here is Brittany’s advice:
I always pack the essentials when going to a pediatrician visit; my child, diaper bag, and my list of questions that I have been saving up since my last visit. Being an occupational therapist, I usually do not have many development questions on this list. However, friends of mine have lists of questions pertaining to development; when should my baby walk? My baby isn’t sitting up yet, is she delayed? He doesn’t have 50 words; when should I start being concerned?
The following are 4 questions that I believe are important to ask based on my experience as well as friends’ and families I service:
1. Can you recommend any reputable books on this topic?
No matter what the question is that you ask the pediatrician, you, of course, will not receive every single detail you may need since they are unable to spend hours with you. Asking for books that elaborate on the advice they are giving you is helpful in order for you to obtain all of the knowledge you want / need for that topic.
2. If the pediatrician thinks your child can benefit from services / therapies, ask for a recommendation of places that are in-network with your insurance company.
I am saddened when I hear that families that go to in-network pediatricians are given out-of-network lists of providers in the area. Out-of-network services can become very expensive (unless you have low out-of-network deductibles); children may be receiving therapy 1-5 times per week… those bills rack up pretty quickly! Going to an in-network provider may cut some of those costs or cost you nothing at all.
3. If you are skeptical about an answer, ask for research or go get a second opinion to back it up.
We all want to do what is absolutely best for our children. I have heard some untrue / biased information that comes from pediatricians and I have also heard some valuable, factual information from other pediatricians. Most of us do not know pediatricians on a personal basis so we want to make sure their advice is based on facts / research instead of personal parenting / experiences. Asking for a second opinion on answers you are not comfortable with is great advocating for your child. For example, my child was once diagnosed with an infected bug bite and prescribed aggressive antibiotics. Based on the timeline of how the bump on his leg occurred, I did not agree with the diagnosis. I got a second opinion and it turns out the bug bite was not infected but rather became quickly inflamed because my son already had a fever / inflammation in his body; If I did not request a second opinion, I would have given my son unnecessary antibiotics over a simple bug bite. My “mommy sense” steered me and my kiddo in the right direction!
4. Ask about blood-work, hair-analysis, and/or genetic testing
If your child is given a diagnosis of any kind, ask about running these tests on your child. I have heard stories from parents about their children getting diagnosed with something, running these tests (either by the pediatrician’s request or the parent’s request), and realizing that their levels were severely off! By adding supplements, making diet changes, etc, some of these difficulties for their children have gone away or decreased!
Brittany Smith is an occupational therapist and the co-owner of Jump Ahead Pediatrics in Jersey City. She is a mom to Bryce, a spunky two year old boy.