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   Your Stories > Stories of interest > Health Care Team For
Health Care Team For Your Special Needs Child

If you have a special needs child, one of the most important questions to ask is the type of healthcare assistance available for your child. This is one of the biggest factors that may determine the type of life that you and your child may lead. You and your special-needs child will work with a team of health professionals who specialize in a variety of disciplines. These disciplines include nursing, physical or occupational therapy, social work, and nutrition-to minimize the effects of the disease or disability. Your child's doctor will coordinate the treatment and monitor your child's progress over time.

Ideally, the doctor who coordinates the care of your special-needs child should be experienced in caring for children with your child's specific condition. If you live in a small town or a rural area, your child may be the only child with that condition under his or her doctor's care. When choosing a doctor for your special-needs child, ask if the doctor is comfortable working with children who have special health needs, and if he or she can spend the time needed to man- age your child's problems.

If the doctor does not seem to have the time or desire to care for your child, ask him or her to refer you to another doctor. You could also ask for recommendations from other parents of disabled children, a local chapter of the national organization that represents your child's condition such as the United Cerebral Palsy Association, the state chapter of the American Academy of Paediatrics (ask for a list of paediatricians who have a sub-specialty in disabilities), or a children's hospital. You and your child will benefit most from working with a doctor who:

* Respects the impact your child's condition has on your family.

* Listens to your concerns and values your opinions.

*Encourages your child to communicate his or her needs and feelings.

* Includes you and the child in decisions about treatments.

* Shares new information about the condition with you and your child.

* Speaks in easy-to-understand language.

*Answers all of your questions.

* Is willing to work with schools, therapists, community health nurses, and neighbourhood agencies to help you gain access to services, support, and education.

* Gives information and guidance appropriate for your child's development.

Other health care professionals such as nurses, physical or occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, social workers, or child psychologists-may work with your child from time to time. Your child's doctor may also refer your child to one or more physician specialists. Each professional will set goals for your child and will decide the type and length of therapy your child needs to accomplish them. Your child's doctor will probably recommend a therapist but it may be a good idea to do some research.

Looking for good healthcare professionals can be a tedious task that may require a lot of time and research. It may come with some discouragements along the way. However, it is very important to note that one perseveres through this process and find the best available healthcare professional for you child.

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Jesse Walters
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