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Frequently Asked Questions | Overview

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 (CHD). Our clinicians have expertise in assessing and supporting the neurodevelopmental challenges associated with CHD. We rely on input from a variety of specialists — including cardiologists, geneticists, neurologists, psychologists, and special education professionals — for assessment and interpretation of results.

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

Children with CHD 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 CHD. 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 consultations, and short-term treatment for behavioral disorders such as sleeping and feeding problems. We can provide a more thorough and specialized assessment, and we’ll 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 CHD who may also have autism spectrum disorder?

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

Can you help with feeding and sleeping problems?

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

Can your program help with anxiety?

Anxiety is a common problem among children with CHD, and parents also often experience anxiety when a child has been ill. Our psychologists assess anxiety in all of our patient families. We offer short-term treatment for anxiety in children and family members, as well as referrals for ongoing treatment, if needed.

Can you help my child with organizational problems?

Organizational problems are a hallmark for children with CHD; 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.