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Should my child see a neurologist

Should my child see a neurologist

Updated: July 9, 2023 · 2 Minute Read

Jeryn Cambrah

Reviewed by:

Jeryn Cambrah

Highlights

  • If your child is experiencing significant delays in things like motor skills, speech and language, or cognitive abilities, a neurologist can help figure out what's going on.
  • Neurologists can evaluate and diagnose things like autism, ADHD, or intellectual disabilities.
  • When you pay a visit to a neurologist, they'll assess your child’s needs, run some tests (think imaging or EEG), and diagnose.

Neurologists can diagnose and help with various neurological conditions like autism. They might also recommend other specialists or professionals who can contribute to a comprehensive evaluation and management plan for your child.

 

Should my special needs child see a neurologist?

If you have concerns about your child’s neurological health, it’s always a good idea to consult your pediatrician or family doctor first. They can evaluate your child’s needs, medical history, and provide appropriate advice. If you seek support from a neurologist, they can assess your child’s behaviors or symptoms, do some neurological exams, and order tests or scans if needed.

 

Here are a few situations where seeing a neurologist could be helpful for your special needs kiddo:

  • Developmental delays: If your child is experiencing significant delays in things like motor skills, speech and language, or cognitive abilities, a neurologist can help figure out what’s going on. Some parents have concerns if their child has a smaller-than-average head size. Neurologists can monitor your child’s head growth.
  • Seizures or epilepsy: If your child has been having seizures, a neurologist can diagnose and manage epilepsy or other seizure disorders.
  • Harmful behaviors or movement disorders: Some children self-soothe by banging their head on the wall or other dangerous behaviors. If your child shows harmful movements or struggles with coordination, balance, or muscle control, a neurologist can identify and help manage the conditions involved.
  • Neurodevelopmental conditions: Neurologists can evaluate and diagnose autism, ADHD, intellectual disabilities, etc. They provide guidance on any treatment and support options like which therapies to consider or medication. A neurologist can work with other people on your child’s medical team. For example, an allergist/immunologist, therapist, or pediatrician might work together for a child with PANDAS.
  • Brain or spine disorders: Think strokes, brain tumors, infections, and traumatic brain or spine injuries. Neurologists can also help adults with peripheral nervous system disorders. These are for nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. Conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve injuries, and peripheral neuropathy are in their wheelhouse.
  • Neurodegenerative diseases: Neurologists help adults manage cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s. Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and ALS are also some of the neurologist’s specialties.

 

What can I expect during the neurologist visit?

When you visit a neurologist, they’ll assess your child’s needs, run some tests (think imaging or EEG), and diagnose. From there, they’ll create a customized treatment plan. Medication, lifestyle tweaks, or maybe even a referral to another specialist could be on the table.

 

There unfortunately isn’t one test for all neurodevelopmental conditions. Most likely you will go into a visit to test one or two medical conditions. If you are looking for a comprehensive autism evaluation, developmental pediatricians, psychologists, or neuropsychologists are the preferred specialists who can diagnose autism. Some families prefer to work with a neurologist for autism. If you’re not sure where to start, check out some free autism screeners first.

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