Developmental Delays and Learning Difficulties

Child Development FAQs

I’m concerned about my child’s development. What should I do?

All children are unique and develop at different rates. However, we know that most typically developing children achieve developmental milestones by certain times. For children under the age of 5, the NSW Blue Book references the milestones set out in CDC’s “Learn the Signs, Act Early” (

If you are concerned that your child is behind or different in their development, it is important to consult a health professional, as early intervention is crucial to better outcomes. Development surveillance checks (routine checks from your blue book) are recommended to be completed with your GP or Child and Family Health nurse. If they recommend specialist consultation, this is when we can help.

What is a Developmental Paediatrician?

Developmental paediatricians are experts in the diagnosis and management of autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays, learning disabilities, ADHD and other developmental and behavioural issues.

They have completed more extensive training in child development and behavioural paediatrics. Upon completion, they become Fellows in Community Child Health with the Royal Australian College of Physicians which is distinct from the General Paediatrics specialty.

Developmental paediatricians often work in a multi-disciplinary manner and work in collaboration with your child’s speech therapist, occupational therapist or psychologist. Review appointments are generally every 6-12 months, however, can be more frequent when trialling new management strategies including the use of medications for certain conditions.

At Sydney Child Development Specialists, our Developmental Paediatricians believe in collaborative, multi-disciplinary care and so will regularly review your child’s progress via joint appointments and case conferences with our therapists.

Why do I need to see a Developmental Paediatrician?

Developmental Paediatricians have the skills and the years of training & experience specific to assessing and treating developmental & behavioural disorders.

General Paediatricians can assess and treat most developmental & behavioural disorders, however some may not have the same level of training and experience that Developmental Paediatricians have in this area.

As problems associated with developmental & behavioural disorders can be complex and sometimes don’t have straight forward treatment or management strategies, it is advisable to see a Developmental Paediatrician or a General Paediatrician with extensive experience in developmental & behavioural disorders.

Why do I need a multidisciplinary assessment?

To conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your child’s developmental concerns, there are a number of aspects to consider-

medical assessment: conducted by a paediatrician to consider whether there are any medical or physical causes contributing to your child’s developmental difficulties

functional assessment: a health professional to assess your child’s development and assess whether they are delayed and what supports they require

diagnostic assessment: further assessment by a health professional to consider whether your child’s development and behaviour are best explained by a neurodevelopmental condition.

Individual consultations with a health professional can cover the above aspects, often over a number of appointments, or you may need to see multiple health professionals at different places.

Multidisciplinary consultations at our practice can cover all of the above aspects in one centre, and often at one appointment, and also provide a comprehensive treatment and management plan.

The National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism ( states that a single health professional with experience in diagnosing Autism can diagnose children with obvious signs of autism, however for those who have less clear symptoms or who have other conditions that make the diagnosis more complicated, multidisciplinary assessments are considered best practice.

All our multidisciplinary assessments are conducted by a team of experienced and highly trained professionals, and will always include a Paediatrician and other health professionals (Psychologist and/or Speech Therapist).

Your child may require standardized tests specific to their needs. For some children these tests will be able to be completed at the initial appointment (particularly during multidisciplinary appointments), however, with some children, these will need to be conducted over subsequent appointments. Testing required is individualised for the child and family, and includes cognitive (IQ) testing, formal developmental assessment tools (e.g. Griffiths Scale of Child Development), and/ or using other forms of testing such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule- 2nd Edition (ADOS-2)

Why do I need ongoing reviews with a paediatrician?

Regular reviews with a paediatrician are important to provide overview of your child’s growth and well-being, developmental and behavioural progress. If your child has a developmental disability, these reviews are necessary to address and screen for conditions that are commonly associated with their condition, and to prevent or intervene early for these issues.