Choosing a doctor for a child is not easy. Choosing a doctor for a child with a disability is even more difficult.
I switched Michael’s doctor three times in his first year. Why? I felt the first two doctors were not listening to my concerns. I was worried that Michael wasn’t advancing. I was always told it was because he was a preemie, but no one followed through or seriously looked at him to see if it could be more. As I’ve explained before, it was a physical therapist from our local school system who was first to ever say cerebral palsy to me. I sought the school out. I was not referred by a doctor or even told there were services out there for preemie babies.
When Michael was a year, we found a great pediatrician. We kept our doctor until Michael graduated from high school. It was hard to move on. We had such a great relationship. Our pediatrician would be first to admit that he wasn’t an expert in cp. But he listened to us and he didn’t hesitate to refer us to specialists. He never once made me feel like I was an over reactive parent; he was also reassuring.
Choosing specialists can be the same. We chose a hospital, Mary Free Bed, 45 minutes away from home for the first four years. We then decided it was time for a change and switched Michael’s specialist to University of Michigan, 3 1/2 hours away. Both hospitals and specialists were great, but they had different ideas. When Michael turned 14 we switched back to Mary Free Bed. I was very happy with U of M but I wanted to get Michael closer to home. He was getting older and I knew that one day he would be taking himself to appointments. It was important to me to make this easy on him and being closer to home would help.
I was thrilled when we made this choice. Now Mary Free Bed had new ideas that weren’t discussed with us before. Once again, both hospitals were great, but sometimes it’s nice to see what others are doing. You will be very surprised at the different thoughts from two very distinguished establishments.
Don’t be shy when picking a doctor. Interview the doctor. Ask them how much experience he/she may have about your child’s specific disability. We had one appointment with a specialist and following the appointment requested a new doctor. Michael wasn’t comfortable and neither was I. Remember, you are doing what is best for your child. If you don’t feel comfortable with a doctor, you may be reluctant to discuss your concerns.