Before a Diagnosis

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Young girl with doll, provider and mom in background
Suspecting and then finding a developmental or medical health problem and its cause in a child is straightforward for some patients and families, but for others it may not be easy, could take a long time, and might need a lot of testing and experts’ views. For a few children, a diagnosis may not be found or may need to wait for new scientific discoveries. Subtopics included are:

Identifying and Diagnosing Problems

Early identification of medical, developmental, sensory (vision or hearing), and mental health problems in children can allow early care and better results for those children and their families. Key roles of a child’s primary care doctor (his or her medical home) are listening to parents’ concerns, watching for signs or symptoms, and screening for problems that have yet to result in signs or symptoms.
When a problem is suspected because of parental worry or a screening test’s results, further testing, exam, visits with specialists, or even hospital stays may be the next steps.


Information & Support

For Parents and Patients

Find Your Parent Center
Parent Centers provide education and referrals for families with a child who has a disability, as well as the professionals who work with them. There are almost 100 Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) in the US states and Territories; Center for Parent Information & Resources.

Learn the Signs. Act Early (CDC)
Offers many tools, videos, lists, learning materials, and an app to track a child’s developmental milestones (ages 2 months to 5 years) and act if concerned about progress; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Services for Patients & Families in Montana (MT)

For services not listed above, browse our Services categories or search our database.

* number of provider listings may vary by how states categorize services, whether providers are listed by organization or individual, how services are organized in the state, and other factors; Nationwide (NW) providers are generally limited to web-based services, provider locator services, and organizations that serve children from across the nation.

Authors & Reviewers

Initial publication: January 2013; last update/revision: September 2020
Current Authors and Reviewers:
Author: Chuck Norlin, MD
Reviewer: Tina Persels