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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Integrative Pediatric Care for the Developing Child

Aug 31, 2016 10:51PM ● By Sharon McDonough-Means

Integrative developmental pediatric care is healing-oriented care for the whole child and family—body, mind and spirit. It is health care for children with disabling conditions, provided by a developmental pediatrician within which all appropriate conventional and non-conventional therapeutic approaches may be used. The focus of care is understanding (how and why a child works the way he/she does) and empowering management (helping the child to be the very best he/she can be). The hope and goal are mindful transformation of the way daily life unfolds and the joy of empowered self-care, which is uplifting and fun.

Children and their families come with a wide range of concerns: delay in early development, including motor and speech-communication difficulties; behavior concerns, including sensory aversions, sleep disturbance and social problems; digestive and growth issues; concern for autistic disorder; problems with learning or producing work at school; and specific conditions such as cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, abuse and neglect.
A most helpful perspective sees child behavior as an indicator of his/her overall functioning—the “tip of the iceberg”. The focus of evaluation and care then becomes “the iceberg”—or the real causes that underlie the more visible behavior—stresses from environment, physical health, developmental abilities and spiritual-emotional issues. This avoids the behavioral “label” becoming the sole focus of treatment, an approach which is often much less effective—putting on a Band-Aid rather than removing the cause of the injury.

Care begins with a comprehensive developmental evaluation of each child to understand their unique developmental strengths and weaknesses, the effect of any physical health stresses past or present, and develops a better understanding of their behavior. This understanding is developed with parents, along with plentiful resources and guidance for the child and family to alleviate the stresses and improve all aspects of functioning. Management may include biomedical care—the profound inter-relationship of genetic vulnerabilities, environmental stressors/toxins and the body’s metabolic and nutritional functioning and impact upon the whole-person.

Sharon McDonough-Means, M.D., is actively practicing in Tucson as an integrative developmental pediatrician, and is also engaged in pediatric integrative medicine research. Connect at 520-247-0405 or

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