Terry Mauro from www.about.com has written
    one of the best articles that I've found
    regarding trying to decide if there is or isn't a
    problem with your child.

    Getting a Diagnosis: The First Step Toward
    Helping Your Child

    A diagnosis doesn't change your child, it explains
    your child. It may be scary or hard to accept,
    but the right diagnosis can lead you to
    information, therapy, technology and services
    that can greatly improve the quality of life for
    your child and your family. Here's how to find
    the answers you need.

    1. Step 1: Take Notes
    2. Step 2: Talk to Your Pediatrician
    3. Step 3: Do Your Research
    4. Step 4: Consult With Specialists
    5. Step 5: Keep Seeking Answers

    Step 1: Take Notes

    Become the foremost researcher on your child,
    examining your subject in a variety of different
    environments and documenting all irregularities.
    If your child has recurring odd actions that
    alarm you, keep a diary of what, when and how
    long. If your child has emotional breakdowns or
    explosions, keep a chart to see if you can
    identify what sets them off. You want to be able
    to specifically document your concerns so that
    doctors have the most accurate idea of what's
    going on and can make the most assured steps
    toward a diagnosis.


    Step 2: Talk to Your Pediatrician

    Chances are, your health insurer will require you
    to go through your pediatrician before tests and
    specialist visits anyway. But it's just as well,
    because your child's regular doctor will likely
    have useful insights and advice to give you. While
    you're the ultimate expert in your child, the
    pediatrician is probably the medical professional
    who knows your child best -- certainly better
    than the specialists who will pop in for a short
    time, look at one aspect of your child's life, and
    see you again in a year. A good pediatrician with
    whom you have a comfortable rapport is a helpful
    person to have filtering all those reports and
    test results and guiding you as to what to do
    about them.

    Step 3: Do Your Research

    If your pediatrician shares your concerns, you
    may be referred on to a specialist for further
    questioning, examining, and testing. You'll want to
    do that immediately, but the specialist's schedule
    may not cooperate; months-long waits are not
    uncommon. Fill the time by doing some research
    about your own and your pediatrician's
    suspicions. You may have done a little research
    before, but now instead of looking for general
    possibilities, you'll want to look into the specific
    diagnosis or diagnoses being investigated. This
    flurry of fact-digging has two good effects: It
    makes you more prepared to speak to the
    specialist, and it passes all that interminable time.

    Step 4: Consult With Specialists

    You've talked with the pediatrician. You've taken
    your notes and done your research, and now
    you're meeting with the big kahuna who can
    actually give you answers as to what's going on
    with your child. That's what you hope for,
    anyway. Specialists may do detailed
    examinations, order extensive and expensive
    tests, and present you with a diagnosis and a
    prognosis. Or they may give your child a cursory
    look, make some vague pronouncements, and send
    you scurrying to the next intimidating
    professional. If you're prepared -- with
    research and questions and specific observations
    about your child -- you may be able to get
    enough of an answer to run with, even if a
    specific diagnosis is elusive.

    Step 5: Keep Seeking Answers

    A diagnosis is in many ways the start of the
    story. It may get fine-tuned as your child grows
    and develops. It may turn out to be inexact or
    flat-out inaccurate. Doctors may wind up re-
    classifying children like yours, eliminating one
    diagnosis or moving a block of children over to
    another one. Seek a diagnosis now, but don't stop
    seeking information. With your focus on one child
    and one disability, you may be able to keep up on
    current research and practices better than your
    doctor. Read the news, surf the Net, network
    with other parents, and collaborate with the
    professionals in your child's life. Be your own
    specialist.
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