Our Neurodevelopmental program evaluates and cares for children with conditions related to the development of the nervous system, including the brain. We specialize in the care of children with special needs, and tailor our services to your child and family.

Our team of doctors, nurses, social workers, dietitians, and physical and occupational therapists understands that your child's well-being affects your entire family. We take into account your family's priorities and concerns, as well as those of your child's doctor, schools and community services, when planning your child's care. We work closely with providers in the community to ensure that your child's care is well coordinated, community-oriented and family-centered.

Conditions We Treat

We see children with many conditions, including:

  • Autism is a disorder that can affect the way a child behaves, thinks, communicates and interacts with others. Children with autism are affected in different ways. Some have only mild symptoms and grow up to live independently, while others have more severe symptoms and need supported living and working environments throughout their lives. Read more.

  • The way a child interacts with their environment is important. If there are concerns about aggression, defiance, hyperactivity, tantrums, anger or anxiety we can help diagnose and treat the majority of non-emergent cases.

  • The brain and nervous system work together to control the functions of the body. Simply put, the nervous system sends messages from the brain to different parts of the body, and carries information from different parts of the body to the brain. Because the brain controls so much, problems with it and the nervous system can affect many different parts of the body. Diseases passed from parent to child, brain disorders associated with mental illness and head injuries can all affect the way the brain works and upset the daily activities of the rest of the body.

  • Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects your child's muscle tone and ability to move on purpose in a coordinated way. Cerebral palsy can lead to other health issues, including vision, hearing and speech problems and learning disabilities. CP is most often caused by damage to the brain. There is no cure for CP. Treatment, therapy, special equipment and, in some cases, surgery can help your child live with the condition. Read more about cerebral palsy.

  • Some babies are born with abnormal brain development or malformations in their cortex or cerebellum. We can follow children long-term to ensure they are receiving appropriate therapies and maximize their quality of life.

  • Children who develop at a slower rate compared to other children in their age group may have what healthcare providers call developmental delays. Developmental delays can refer to the rate at which children's senses develop, how they grow socially or emotionally, how they move, or how fast they learn language.

  • Many syndromes such as Down syndrome, Rett syndrome, Prader–Willi syndrome, fragile X syndrome and others are associated with developmental delays. We can diagnose and treat these conditions and also provide ongoing specialized care to maximize quality of life and promote success.

  • Lack of oxygen to the brain can cause injury to the tissue and associated problems with movement, cognition or language. We can follow children long-term to ensure they are receiving appropriate therapies and maximize their quality of life.

  • Learning disabilities occur when a child has difficulty acquiring knowledge and skills at the same level and rate as their peers. We are not able to assess for the presence of learning disabilities but can help with obtaining an assessment or making recommendations for an individualized education plan.

  • The birth of a baby before the 37th week of pregnancy.

  • Sometimes children have academic, social or behavioral problems in school. We can do a thorough assessment to rule out other contributing issues and make recommendations for improvement.

  • Spina bifida is a neural tube defect. The neural tube is located along the back of an unborn baby. It eventually develops into the baby's brain and spinal cord. Spina bifida occurs when the neural tube fails to close. There are many neural tube defects, and they vary greatly in their severity. Some, such as Spina bifida occulta, cause few if any problems. The most severe form, meningomyelocele, often causes loss of muscle use (paralysis) in the leg, bowel and bladder, along with learning disabilities. Read more. (PDF)

  • To be diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, a child must have many different types of tics. Tics are sudden, repetitive movements (motor tics) or sudden, repetitive sounds (vocal tics). Doctors don't know the exact cause of TS, but some research suggests that it occurs when there's a problem with how nerves communicate in the brain. Read more.

Services We Offer

  • The Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Clinic (CNC) is located on the University of Washington Medical Center campus. The clinic is co-directed by a pediatric cardiologist and a developmental pediatrician. We provide interdisciplinary developmental risk assessments for children who have undergone open heart surgery during their first year of life. Our team includes experts from the following disciplines: Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech–language pathology, social work, nutrition, developmental pediatrics, audiology and psychology.

  • The Developmental Neuropsychiatry Clinic (DNP) provides integrated neurodevelopmental and psychiatric care to children with developmental disabilities who have both medical and behavioral or psychiatric issues. The clinic focuses on children who have genetic disorders and/or brain malformations. The DNP team includes a developmental pediatrician, a neurodevelopmental-trained pediatric nurse practitioner and a child psychiatrist. We work closely with primary care providers, other medical specialists, therapists, nutritionists, social workers, the inpatient psychiatry team, community mental health agencies and other community providers to maximize the potential of these complex children.

  • The Down Syndrome Specialty Clinic (DSSC) is located on the University of Washington Medical Center campus. The clinic provides long-term consultation for concerns about behavior and learning difficulties among children with Down syndrome. Our team includes experts from the following disciplines: Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech–language pathology, social work, nutrition, developmental pediatrics, behavioral analysis, audiology, special education, genetic counseling and psychology.

  • The Infant Development Follow-Up Clinic (IDFC) is located on the University of Washington Medical Center campus. It provides interdisciplinary risk assessments to children born prematurely (before 37 weeks). Other high risk populations seen in our clinic include children with in-utero drug exposure, low birth weight or other biomedical/environmental risk factors. Our team includes experts from the following disciplines: Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech–language pathology, social work, nutrition, developmental pediatrics, audiology and psychology.

  • The Washington Medical–Legal Partnership (MLP) works collaboratively with Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Neurodevelopmental Clinic to help patients understand and secure their legal rights for safe housing, adequate schooling, public benefits, immigration, family law, medical needs and more. The MLP attorneys also provide direct legal assistance in obtaining guardianship and power of attorney for families with children who have disabilities as they transition into adulthood.

  • With advances in technology, neurodevelopmental disorders are being diagnosed prenatally. Neurodevelopmental counseling has been an integral part of Seattle Children’s Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment Program since its inception in 2007. Our team of developmental pediatricians and pediatric neurologists provide comprehensive counseling to women carrying fetuses with abnormal central nervous system imaging findings. Conditions identified during pregnancy include spina bifida, ventriculomegaly (enlarged fluid spaces in the brain), agenesis of the corpus callosum, Dandy–Walker malformation and other differences in the brain and spine. During prenatal consultations, we review the potential impacts of these conditions on cognitive, social, communication and motor development activities of daily living and overall health.

  • Reach Out and Read is a national program that we have incorporated into our routine care at the Neurodevelopmental Clinic. The program provides a free book to all children ages six months to six years and promotes education about the importance of reading and literacy on child development.

  • The Spina Bifida Clinic provides ongoing medical and developmental care to children born with spina bifida or neural tube defects from birth through 21 years of age. The multidisciplinary team includes experts from developmental pediatrics, neurosurgery, nutrition, orthopedics, rehabilitation medicine, urology and social work.

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