The majority of developmentally disabled adolescents who were once considered unemployable have now been demonstrated to have employment potential if appropriate educational support, family support, and medical services and planning are combined to encourage maximum independence.1,2 Concern for a child's eventual vocational placement may not traditionally be seen as part of the pediatrician's responsibility; however, pediatricians are in a unique position to be advocates for children with disabilities and for their families. Pediatricians are often the first to identify the disability for the family, and they assist in the family's adjustment to the child's special needs while providing ongoing care to both the child and family. With an enlightened eye to the child's eventual ability to function in society, the pediatrician can make a great contribution to the disabled child's future through the traditional functions of (1) diagnosis and management of medical problems, (2) education and counseling of parents, and (3) patient advocacy.
As part of health maintenance, pediatricians provide or coordinate the diagnosis and management of medical problems such as vision impairment, hearing loss, communication disorders, seizures, and motor disabilities. As members of interdisciplinary groups that generate a health services plan, pediatricians join in the evaluation and treatment planning for children. Pediatricians should also provide information for medical and therapeutic plans for these children and material for family discussions on long- and short-term personal goals for such children.
No matter how skillful the professional services, the family's culture has the strongest influence on patient behavior. For vocational planning, in addition to the ability to be trained in and to master specific technical skills, social behavior is a major variable in determining success.
- Copyright © 1986 by the American Academy of Pediatrics