Developmental Medicine

The Child Development Unit's (CDU) psychologists and doctors have advanced training in treating childhood development and related medical, social, and behavioral concerns.

The Developmental Medicine Program is part of the CDU at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Our developmental medicine psychologists are here to make sure that each child receives the most effective, up-to-date care available.

Assessing Autism Spectrum Disorder

The main role of our developmental medicine psychologists is to assess if a child has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014), approximately 1 of 68 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with ASD, making it one of the most common developmental disabilities.

ASD is a neurodevelopmental condition that includes symptoms such as:

  • Problems with communication and social skills.
  • Narrow, repetitive patterns of behavior.

When children see a developmental medicine psychologist, the main question should be to decide the presence or absence of ASD.

Evaluations typically take two to three hours and consist of:

  • Review of records obtained from teachers, early intervention therapists, and other providers.
  • Clinical interview with the child’s parents or primary caregivers.
  • Assessment with standardized developmental, cognitive, and behavioral assessments such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)

Psychologists use the information from the evaluation to:

  • Inform diagnosis and conceptualization of the child’s most pressing needs.
  • Establish treatment recommendations.
  • Connect parents and caregivers with the most appropriate interventions for their children.

When a child does not have ASD, these experts provide evidence-based alternative diagnoses and treatment plans.

Other disorders could include:

  • Anxiety
  • Specific fears
  • Communication disorders
  • Movement disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Selective mutism
  • Disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders

Meet Our Developmental Medicine Psychology Team

Developmental medicine psychologists have a strong commitment to:

  • Continuing education.
  • Evidence-based practice.
  • Training students in the medical and behavioral health fields.