I am a Consultant Pediatric Neurologist and I am the founder of a unique Pediatric Neuroscience Center called Neuropedia in Dubai. The primary goal behind the conceptualization of this center was to eradicate or at least minimize the ‘Tip of the Iceberg’ phenomenon of neurodevelopmental disorders in children.
Let’s explore this phenomenon.
‘My child has delayed speech’ – The first knee jerk reaction is to seek help from a speech therapist to help improve his speech. ‘My child is 20 months old and still cannot walk’ – The first step for most parents is to seek help from a pediatrician and then a physiotherapist. ‘My child is 2 years old and has tremors’ – Lets take him to an occupational therapist.
These are scenarios that we come across on regular basis. These interventions are obviously warranted and will invariably help the child in the long run. However, what most tend to ignore or forget is ‘The Iceberg’ itself. The reason behind these deficits or delays. The primary underlying cause of for these difficulties.
So why is it important to seek an answer or a diagnosis before embarking on therapeutic interventions. It is important so that you as parents and the professionals involved can begin to understand the cause of your child’s symptoms and identify his or her needs. Specific treatment strategies can be designed to manage the symptoms, newer treatment modalities can be offered, future complications can be predicted and screened for and future prognosis can become clearer. In many cases, if a specific diagnosis is made early the outcome is much better simply because appropriate interventions are put into place early and appropriate screening programs are offered.
A number of examples can be given here as illustration: Speech delay being the tip of the Autism iceberg, Blank spells/inattention being the tip of the epilepsy iceberg, inability to walk being the tip of the metabolic disorder iceberg and so on.
We at Neuropedia have developed a DART approach to eradicate this phenomenon and reduce time for diagnosis in many of these conditions. The DART approach includes Diagnosis, Assessments, Recommendations and Therapy.
- Dr Arif Khan is the Founder and CEO of Neuropedia and a consultant pediatric neurologist