Need to know
- A guide to what to do at your first paediatrician appointment. What you need to know and how you can best prepare yourself.
You’ve probably spent a few months anxiously waiting for a paediatrician appointment and you’re pinning your hopes on finding a solution during this one meeting. However a diagnosis can actually be a multistep process that starts with you, and other close contacts of your child, being asked to fill out a number of forms. The paediatrician will also want to do a physical exam and may send you to get additional hearing and vision tests, to rule out other problems, before making a diagnosis, if any.
Why it’s important
This first appointment helps the paediatrician gather information so they can begin to understand your concerns and your child better. During their initial consultation, a paediatrician might:
- Interview your child and the parent attending the appointment to establish the severity, duration and frequency of symptoms
- Review your child’s personal history, including their symptoms and developmental progress (i.e. pregnancy, birth, behaviour; milestones; vision, hearing and language ability; etc.)
- Examine your child’s school performance including their behaviour, learning capacity, academic achievement and attendance
- Ask close contacts of your child (i.e. parents, family members, teachers), to complete a standardised behaviour rating scale that measures symptoms
- Complete a thorough medical review of your child by examining their past medical history and assessing their current health status.
- Check vital signs (pulse rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate), weight, height, etc. Occasionally blood tests may be ordered if deemed necessary
- Assess for psychological conditions (such as anxiety, depression, learning disorders, trauma, conduct disorder, drug use) that could account for or contribute to symptoms
- Determine your child’s family history, including the quality of relationships, parental management styles, parental stress or conflict, and cultural and social influences
- Appraise your child’s social and education history including their level of academic achievement, capacity to develop and maintain social relationships, ability to participate in a team, etc.
Tips and strategies
Don’t question yourself, you have made this appointment for a reason, but it is best to go in prepared. What to take with you:
1. GP referral and *Medicare card. A referral from your GP allows you to claim the cost of the paediatric appointment on Medicare. Without it you will need to foot the whole bill yourself. *Medicare is an Australian healthcare card
2. Your child’s school or preschool reports. This will help determine if your child’s behaviour presents itself in more than one setting
3. Other supporting documentation. This could include occupational therapy or psychology reports, or perhaps sight and hearing tests they might have already done.
4. A list of your concerns and questions. It’s best to write these down so you don’t forget to ask during the appointment. If you have been using the Keywell app to record behaviour, sleep, etc, don’t forget to show the paediatrician so that they can better understand your concerns.
Lastly, psychologists who specialise in children’s developmental conditions and mood disorders often have long wait times. If you haven’t already, it is best to secure an appointment with a reputable psychologist as soon as you can and if you don’t need one you can always cancel.