Neurological conditions that happen while a baby forms in the womb can affect the way a child grows and can hinder learning, development and retention of certain skills. Some of these conditions are noticeable from an early age, while others might appear several years later. They commonly affect a child’s concentration, perception, communication, memory, language, social behavior or motor skills.
Children may face unique challenges in life, but with quality treatment and support, they can truly thrive.
At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, we approach care from a whole child perspective. This means understanding the interaction of biological, educational, emotional and behavioral factors. Our experienced team of behavioral and developmental specialists is dedicated to helping every child reach their full potential.
We treat many types of developmental conditions. Here’s information about the most common ones:
ADHD makes it hard for someone to concentrate, stay still or control impulsive behaviors. Some children with ADHD feel restless and desire to move constantly. They have trouble paying attention and controlling sudden impulses to move, talk or interrupt someone. Other children with ADHD might not experience symptoms of hyperactivity, but have trouble concentrating and staying organized. ADHD begins in childhood and continues throughout life, but symptoms can be managed through medication, therapy or a combination of the two.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or autism, affects the way someone thinks, communicates and interacts with others. It’s characterized by difficulty with speech, nonverbal communication, social skills and unusual or repetitive behaviors. Autism is known as a spectrum disorder because of the broad variation in symptoms from person to person. Autism is often diagnosed in early childhood and tends to be lifelong, but there are treatments and therapies available to help.
Parents play a central role in nurturing and monitoring a child’s development, but they’re not alone. There are many people who help support a child’s growth and development, including daycare providers, teachers, coaches and a child’s pediatrician. It’s a good idea to keep open communication with everyone in your child’s life, and if any concerns are raised, make an appointment with your child’s doctor. Primary care doctors and pediatricians are trained to observe each child’s physical and mental health, including the achievement of age-appropriate milestones.
It’s important to remember that there’s a broad range for “normal” development. Every child learns and grows at their own pace. It’s also common for a child to excel early in one skill, but take longer to master another. A doctor can let you know right away if there are any concerns about your child’s development. Sometimes it’s recommended that you pay close attention to certain behaviors. You may also receive education and support for working with your child on a particular skill.
If our doctors think the help of a specialist is needed, we can refer you to one of our developmental experts. When you meet with our specialists, we’ll work with you to provide a diagnosis and create a personalized treatment plan for your child.
Our experienced team includes pediatric psychologists, speech and language pathologists, developmental and behavioral pediatricians and pediatric nurse practitioners. Treatment may involve a combination of cognitive or behavioral therapy, speech therapy and medication.
Often treatment is a combined effort between parents, daycare providers, teachers and your child’s pediatrician or developmental specialists. To give your child the most support, let the important people in their life know how they can help contribute to treatment efforts.
We also consider medical, developmental and behavioral factors to establish a comprehensive understanding of each child we meet. And as an integrated care group, we screen children for anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns that sometimes happen alongside developmental conditions.
If you haven’t talked to a doctor about your child’s symptoms, we recommend starting with a visit to one of our primary care doctors or pediatricians. We will listen to your concerns and can connect you to the right specialist if needed.
Primary care doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are familiar with common childhood development stages, as well as indicators that a mental or behavioral concern may be present. Remember that there’s a broad range for “normal” development. Trust your instincts and tell your doctor if you have concerns about your child’s growth, mental health or behavior.
Some conditions respond well to talk therapy and skills training, while some are successfully treated with medication, and sometimes a combination of methods is best. We respect our patients’ preferences and will work with you to develop a treatment plan for your child that you’re comfortable with.
Before your child’s first appointment, you will be asked to complete a background questionnaire. This gives us helpful information so your appointment can be focused on what is most important to you.
During the appointment, you will be asked a variety of questions to help us understand your concerns. Based on the concerns you share and the doctor’s initial assessment, further testing may be recommended. Any recommended tests won’t happen in the first appointment, but we’ll help you schedule follow up appointments and answer any questions you have about next steps.
We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, PreferredOne and many others.
Not sure what your insurance covers? Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.
Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are the member services numbers to help you get started: