Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program | Frequently Asked Questions

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Contact the Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program

How is this program different from other developmental programs in the hospital?

The Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program is specifically designed for children with a history of congenital heart disease. Our clinicians have expertise in assessing and supporting the neurodevelopmental challenges associated with congenital heart defect. We rely on input from a variety of specialists — including cardiology, genetics, neurology, psychology and special education — for assessment and interpretation of results.

My pediatrician says my child is doing well. Do we still need this program?

Children with congenital heart defect are at increased risk for developmental delays, academic difficulties, social adjustment challenges, and behavioral disorders such as feeding and sleeping problems. There is a better chance of improvement if the problems are identified as early as possible. “Wait and see” is not a recommended approach to addressing developmental concerns for children with a history of severe congenital heart defect. If you are concerned about any aspect of your child’s development, you should seek a second opinion consultation sooner rather than later.

How is this program different from early intervention?

The Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program is not the same as early intervention. Early intervention provides developmental screenings and community-based developmental supports for children at risk. The Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program focuses specifically on the developmental risks associated with having heart disease as a young child. Our program provides state-of-the-art neurodevelopmental assessments, parent and school consultation, and short-term treatment for behavioral disorders such as sleeping and feeding problems. We can provide a more thorough and specialized assessment, and will follow your child’s development over time.

My child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and is receiving services, but we aren’t seeing progress. Can you help?

Yes. Many of the families we work with come to our program just for this reason. We are often asked to review IEPs and recommend changes, if needed. We typically serve as a second opinion throughout the process of writing or revising an IEP. If needed, we can conduct an independent educational evaluation and interpret prior evaluation results.

Can you evaluate children with congenital heart defect who may also have autism disorder?

Yes. Rates of autism are higher among children with congenital heart defect, and one specialty of our program staff is evaluating children with congenital heart defect who may have autism. Our work includes helping families and schools develop appropriate treatment plans and educational programs for children who have both congenital heart defect and autism.

Can you help with feeding and sleeping problems?

Yes. Feeding and sleeping difficulties are the most common behavioral problems in children with congenital heart defect. We evaluate and treat both feeding and sleeping disorders. We can work directly with you to treat these difficulties, or serve as a consultant to your community-based providers.

Can your program help with anxiety?

Anxiety is a common problem among children with congenital heart defect, and parents often experience anxiety when a child has been ill. Our psychologists assess anxiety in all of our patients. We offer short-term treatment for child and family anxiety and referrals for ongoing treatment, if needed.

Can you help my child with organizational problems?

Organizational problems are a hallmark for children with congenital heart defect. They are usually part of a broader profile of learning problems. We evaluate children for organizational difficulties and can help families develop a plan to treat these challenges.

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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000
For Referring Providers: 844-BCH-PEDS | 844-224-7337

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