Paediatricians role in caring for children with learning difficulties

Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 05/25/2012

Roberts G et al. – Australian paediatric practice in this area is diverse, with the greatest variability around management practices. These data provide a case for designing and implementing evidence–based guidelines for the paediatric care of children who struggle to learn in school.

Methods

  • All 373 paediatrician members of the Australian Paediatric Research Network were invited to participate in an online survey in 2010.
  • Paediatricians who saw children with learning difficulties were asked questions about their assessment, referral and management practices.

Results

  • Of 181 (49%) paediatricians to complete the survey, 140 (77%) reported seeing patients with learning difficulties.
  • Most often, paediatricians supplemented their clinical assessments with audiology assessments (75%), teacher or parent questionnaires (60–65%), or teacher contact (51%).
  • Paediatricians used medical investigations (40%), direct assessment tools (27%) or a school visit (4%) less often.
  • Most paediatricians referred children with learning difficulties to educational psychology (84%), special education (61%) or speech therapy (66%) services but less often to occupational therapy (34%) or mental health (15%) services.
  • The most common management strategies were to provide a report to the school (76%) or parents (66%) and to make recommendations around sleep hygiene (75%) and for tutoring (66%).

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