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pproximately one in six children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with special needs — ranging from mild disabilities such as speech or language difficulties to more serious disorders — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Down syndrome, the most common genetic condition, currently affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. According to the CDC, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects 1 in 68 U.S. children and is 4.5 times more common in boys than girls. The four main classifications of special needs follow.


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  


may have suffered from Asperger’s Syn- drome, although at the time he was simply labeled eccentric. For every celebrity with a special need, there are many more unrecognized heroes among us who live with special needs.


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Cystic Fibrosis, Juvenile Arthritis, Epilepsy, Muscular Dystrophy


Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Dyslexia


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Depression, Bipolar Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)


Blind, Deaf


If your child has been newly diagnosed with a special need, it’s normal to feel a range of emotions — including denial, fear, guilt, disappointment, depression and grief. It’s not uncommon to feel isolated and alone. However, it’s important and encouraging to note that we live in a world where many familiar faces with special needs thrive. Consider Andrea Bocelli, the world-fa- mous singer who is blind. Stephen Hawk- ing became a brilliant neurophysicist in spite of a debilitating neurological disease and being confined to a wheelchair, un- able to speak. Cambridge researchers have hypothesized that Albert Einstein


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  One of the most critical decisions you will make for your special needs child is choosing the right primary healthcare provider. It is essential to select someone with whom you are able to develop a col- laborative, respectful relationship. Seek a provider experi- enced in treating kids with special needs. If possible, look for someone close to your home, as frequent trips are to be expected. When considering healthcare practices, try to find one with a designated person for referrals and service/ care coordination with spe- cialists in the area. Don't be


afraid to ask about seeing other special- ists such as those in occupational health, psychologists and physical therapists. You will probably need frequent notes for teachers, permission to administer medi- cations at school, insurance reimburse- ment forms signed, etc. Look for practices with flexible hours and ask about after- hours emergency procedures, especially if going to an urgent-care facility. Having a provider who has admitting privileges or a close working relationship with area hospitalists will help you have seamless care transitions.


It is a good idea to write down ques- tions before your visit. Ask to record the


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