How Do I Get A Referral To A Developmental Pediatrician?

It has been two years since my nine year old son last saw a developmental pediatrician where we were told that he did have sensory issues and mild hypotonia but to try working on these things at home, which we did. My son is having trouble keeping up with other kids physically in Cub Scouts and swimming lessons and I think we need to get him in some kind of therapy for his issues; or at least more advice on how to handle the lack of coordination, endurance and strength. So we would like to take him to see the developmental pediatrician again but we have to get another referral and that means convincing another doctor to make a referral. It was not easy to do the last time. The doctor didn't think my son's issues were that much of a problem and he acted like he thought there wasn't much that could be done to help him with his issues.


We have to go to a military base for our primary care because we have Tricare Prime. We will have about ten minutes to convince this doctor that he needs help. I have the Sensory Processing Disorder Checklist filled out and ready to take with us. Is there anything else I should say to help convince the doctor that we need a referral?

The SPD Help Line Answers...


Ok, first of all... some clarification? Has your son been officially diagnosed with anything? SPD? If not, then this is where we need to start. If so, then this may be easier.

Either way... I suggest that you get a referral to an Occupational Therapist who specializes in SPD. They are really the best discipline to officially diagnose Sensory Processing Disorders, and the only discipline that generally treats SPD. A Developmental Pediatrician might, but they can be harder to find... one with experience regarding SPD. That said, a Developmental Pediatrician is a good place to start if THEY can then give you a referral to an OT, since they were the ones who first picked up on the sensory issues. AND, they can rule out any other developmental delays or issues. Does that make sense? If you want to see a Developmental Pediatrician too, that is good... the actual SPD diagnosis will come from an OT. To find an Occupational Therapist in your area (or with your insurance... tricky, I know-- make some phone calls), make sure you read and follow the links in the first edition of my newsletter, Finding An Occupational Therapist For SPD. There is a great database of SIPT certified OT's linked to in that newsletter too!

So, you can go either way... get a referral for an OT or a Developmental Pediatrician, or both. But it does sound to me like he may need some OT treatment.

As for what to bring besides the checklist? I would write down VERY SPECIFIC behaviors or skills he has difficulty with. No judgement or vague statements like is not good at sports. Instead write that he will miss any ball that is thrown to him 90% of the time. When he is at Cub Scouts, he can't keep up with the other kids while hiking as his legs tire so easily (after 5 minutes), etc., etc. What does he say, look like, feel like... what specific behaviors does he exhibit, or not, that are concerning for you, for him, or for keeping up with his peers. What skills/lack of skills are impacting his self-esteem? Make sense?

Also, you may want to take the List Of Commonly Used Diagnostic Codes For Evaluation And Treatment Of SPD, as that may help your doctor give a referral to an OT or a Developmental Pediatrician with the right insurance codes that should be reimbursable. And, of course, you can call your insurance company to see if any of those codes are acceptable.

I hope this helps. Good luck with the doctor! Be calm, but firm. Let him know the specifics and don't walk out of there without a referral to one or the other, or both, ok? Don't assume the worst... prepare for the worst, but hope for the best!

Take care.
Michele Mitchell

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