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140701 EPABlogImageThrive1A traditional pediatric practice helps lots of kids, but I am convinced it barely scratches the surface of what many children need. The physical health of a child is only a portion of wellness. The other key aspect is mental and behavioral/developmental health.

Eugene-Springfield has many wonderful mental and behavioral health caregivers and agencies for kids, but coordinating care with pediatricians is always a challenge. After nearly 15 years in practice here, I became frustrated with the limitations in my traditional practice to meet the needs of the children we serve.

So, one sunny autumn afternoon last year, I asked my favorite child psychologist, Dr. Jenny Mauro, to have coffee and talk about the exciting possibilities of pediatricians working side by side with child psychologists, developmental pediatricians and child psychiatrists.

If that happened, I could step out of my exam room and grab a specialist in child mental health and development to get a “curbside consult.” My families could meet a behavioral health care provider for a momentary “hello” and know whom they would meet during an upcoming visit. And scheduling the behavioral health visit at the same location would be a breeze.

Coordination of care would be so easy and even fun. Brown bag lunches with my doctors sitting around the same table with psychologists and other behavioral specialists would make it easy to discuss children in need of our team approach.

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Posted by on in News

131022EPAautismgameboysIn the July issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, a study of boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared use of technology, or video games, with use by ADHD boys and the general pediatric male population. Participants ranged in age from 8 to 18.

The results showed that boys with autism and ADHD spend significantly more time on technology devices, including addictive video games. In particular, inattention was strongly associated with problematic video game use for both groups. The conclusion of this study is that more research needs to be done, over a longer period of time, to understand the impact this use of technology has on these kids.

Watching lots of kids with their technology in my office, I have observed children with autism often find technology soothing, and many parents of these kids use it to teach their children novel ways to communicate and adapt to the real world around them.

Kids with ADHD also are drawn to technology, although it appears to me to be for a different reason — the rapid-fire graphics and action fit their brain's frenetic pattern of activity. For parents of these kids, technology can be the rare activity that keeps them still and holds their attention for any length of time.

I will look forward to future research on ways in which technology can help, or hinder, kids with all types of abilities.

EPA-childpsychoEugene Pediatrics is the first pediatric office in Lane County to have an on-site psychiatrist working alongside pediatricians. With child psychiatrist Dr. Jacqueline Amato, a board-certified psychiatrist, at the same location as your child’s physicians, we better meet the medical needs of your children.

Studies show that as many as 70 percent of primary care visits in the United States are related to psychosocial issues. Integrating primary and mental health care can improve the overall health of patients through the coordination of care between psychiatrists and primary care physicians.

If you are concerned about the behavioral health of your child, talk first to your child’s pediatrician about a referral. Pediatricians can often diagnose and treat common behavioral issues. Our pediatricians work with parents to decide whether it's best or needed to refer their child to Dr. Amato, or a psychologist.

Parents most commonly request a referral when they observe in their children extreme depression, anxiety or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Parents often view evidence of these behavioral issues as a defeat, as an example of bad parenting, or as a terrifying prospect, and they desperately want to help their child. You should consider having your child see a psychiatrist if:

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girlatschoolBirthday cutoffs lead to a variety of ages in the classroom as new groups of kids enter school every year. We’re now learning that these age differences can have a profound effect on student performance and success.

A recent nationwide study of almost 12,000 children revealed that the youngest kids at every grade level, from kindergarten through middle school, faced academic and behavior challenges.  

The youngest third had an 80-90 percent increased risk of scoring in the lowest 10 percent of their class in both math and language arts. Statistics showed that the risk of academic struggles followed kids all the way from kindergarten through middle school.

Also concerning was the much higher risk of being treated with stimulant drugs for ADHD – the youngest third was 50 percent more likely to be on medication.

What can you do? If your child is near the birthday cutoff, consider the pros and cons before leaping into kindergarten.  

If you have a younger child who’s already in school, be alert to academic or behavioral problems. It’s important to realize that your son or daughter may simply be a bit behind other kids in the class – anywhere from a few months to a year – but still on track for his or her age. If so, your child will need more support at home and in the classroom.

If you have questions about your son or daughter’s academic or behavioral success, or have concerns about ADHD, please contact us.
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