Developmental Pediatrics Tailored to Each Patient

For Physicians

In the field of developmental behavioral pediatrics, treatment plans cannot be recommended based on a diagnosis alone. Each child has a unique presentation of autism, or Down syndrome or spina bifida based on his or her personality, family situation and many other variables.  

The Meyer Center for Developmental Pediatrics and Autism at Texas Children’s Hospital has developed programs to help families as they learn about a new diagnosis and transition out of pediatric medicine. These programs allow for close collaboration between family members, patients and a multidisciplinary team so that therapy and treatment recommendations are appropriate to each child’s unique circumstances.  

“At the end of a visit, families will have a better understanding of where their children are functioning in various areas of development. Then we tailor a treatment plan specifically for that child, whether that be medical evaluation such as genetic testing, extra therapy services specifically for their condition or help navigating community resources, such as counseling, parent management training or the school system,” said Kathryn Ostermaier, MD, chief-of-service for Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics. 

Learning about a new diagnosis: The Road Map Model 

Developmental behavioral pediatrics programs across the nation face similar challenges of long waitlists for initial evaluation and too few qualified providers.  

“In an effort to help meet the demands of our community, we’ve developed a new model of care — a more consultative model. Families come in and see a psychologist or physician for diagnosis and treatment plan. Then, we have an amazing multidisciplinary team to support the family after that,” said Dr. Ostermaier. 

They call their new model of care the Road Map Model. It consists of a series of workshops to gradually give families an in-depth look at the diagnosis their child has received, what it means for that child now and in the future and the resources available to help that child grow and thrive in his or her community. Workshops begin when a child is placed on the waiting list to be seen and become more detailed after a formal diagnosis is given. They’re free, available to anyone — not just Texas Children’s patients — and available in Spanish and English.  

“Our visits can be overwhelming for families. We have found that most people understood the diagnosis the day they came in to meet the provider, but over 80% of families felt like they needed to process that information before receiving details around community resources and treatment plans,” said Dr. Ostermaier.  

Texas Children’s has been using the Road Map Model for almost 2 years and has received positive feedback from families as well as other clinics across the nation who are eager to emulate this model of care.  

Moving into adult medicine: Transition Medicine Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine 

While schools provide a system to get children the support they need, once those children graduate, they lose the framework that once directed them to helpful services.  

“For adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, there are a lot of programs in the community for work and education. I don’t want children to fall through the cracks and not be able to access those services as they move out of the educational system,” said Dr. Ostermaier. “I can’t speak highly enough of the Baylor Transition Medicine Clinic.”  

Transitioning out of the Texas Children’s environment can be daunting for children and their caregivers, but the specialized Transition Medicine Program at Baylor College of Medicine offers families essential education about services for adults. Experienced social workers can direct families to work, volunteer or educational opportunities tailored for adults with developmental disabilities. For children with complex medical needs, the physicians at the Transition Medicine Program have developed close working relationships with adult providers in the community who understand appropriate interventions moving forward. Finally, there are many legal and insurance concerns as a child becomes a legal adult, and the Transition Medicine Program is equipped to answer questions and provide guidance in these matters.  

Care for the whole child, their whole life 

The team at the Meyer Center for Developmental Pediatrics and Autism knows that because each patient situation is unique, understanding a child’s diagnosis and how it affects their experiences and relationships can enrich the lives of everyone involved. As providers at the Center welcome new families in and coach adolescents on their transition to adult medicine, they’re always taking time to explain the next steps.  

“One of my mentors used to say, ‘our job is to educate ourselves out of a job.’ Education is a big part of what we do,” said Dr. Ostermaier. “My hope is that caregivers see that we can help them understand their child.” 

Refer to the Meyer Center for Developmental Pediatrics and Autism through their online portal or by calling 832-822-3400. 

You can also learn more about the Baylor College of Medicine Transition Medicine Clinic and their new facility at The Center for Pursuit