The BANDS (Behavioral and Neurodevelopmental Services) program at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center is made up of a multidisciplinary group of providers in both the Department of Pediatrics (child development) and Child Psychiatry. Developmental pediatrician, Nina Sand-Loud MD, and child psychiatrists, Craig Donnelly MD and Jennifer McLaren MD, have been long-time partners with the NH-ME LEND program and have mentored and provided rich clinical experiences for numerous LEND trainees. Working together across disciplines, these dedicated physicians collaborate with additional team members to provide comprehensive evaluations and consultations to answer complex diagnostic, behavioral and neurodevelopmental questions parents and providers have about children in their care.
Several different multidisciplinary clinics convene to meet the needs of this varied population. Young children with concerns about autism spectrum disorders are seen in the Autism and Communication Disorders Clinic (ACDC clinic) by a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, a neuropsychologist and a speech and language therapist. Older children, whose parents have concerns about co-occurring neurodevelopmental and mental health disorder, are seen by the Neurodevelopmental Psychiatric Clinic (NDPC). This combination of child psychiatry and neuropsychology also collaborates in the Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnostic Clinic to see children whose parents may be seeking a second opinion with respect to an autism spectrum disorder.
Each multidisciplinary team takes the time to evaluate the child’s unique challenges and strengths, gain the family’s perspective, and review school and service provider records. Clinicians compare findings, determine a diagnosis when appropriate, and meet with every family to discuss their conclusions and provide next steps. A social worker and family resource coordinator support the family prior to the visit, as well as, provide resources in the community and connect families to needed services.
Not only do the families benefit from this multidisciplinary approach, the providers learn from each other and take those experiences back to individual settings, knowing they may call on advice from other perspectives when needed. In addition, working in an academic medical center, providers have the opportunity to work with a variety of learners, including nursing students, medical residents, child psychiatry fellows, neuropsychology post-doctoral students, and NH LEND trainees. Not only do the learners benefit from the professionals serving on the team, they also learn from each other. This is particularly positive as these emerging leaders develop skills, potentially become educators themselves and go on to advocate for the needs of individuals with special needs.
The BANDS program also has a supported employment program that helps youth 16 years and older obtain and maintain competitive employment in the community.