Medical Diagnosis

Our pediatrics team can evaluate, diagnose, and design
a plan to help your child reach their full potential.
Ask your pediatrician or medical provider about a referral to Siskin today.

How to Request an Appointment

At the Center for Developmental Pediatrics at Siskin Children’s Institute we believe that the best care is coordinated care. Therefore, we accept new patients for medical diagnosis and assessments from a referring physician. This provides us with comprehensive medical history and information, and maintains continuity with the child’s primary care physician and specialist.

If you have concerns regarding your child’s development, please reach out to your child’s pediatrician or medical care provider and request a referral to Siskin Children’s Institute today.

Our Services

Developmental Pediatrics

The Center for Developmental Pediatrics can evaluate, diagnose, and develop a success plan for your child.

At Siskin Children’s Institute our team is committed to providing high-quality care in a family-centered environment and we partner with families and community organizations to maximize the potential of each child. Our highly experienced medical team are here to help you navigate services, information, and resources to support your individual child’s needs while providing a comprehensive approach to medical and therapeutic care.

Our medical team takes an interdisciplinary approach to early identification and intervention for neurodevelopmental concerns and specializes in the areas of developmental pediatrics, speech pathology, occupational therapy, feeding therapy, behavior psychology, and applied behavior analysis for children diagnosed with Autism.

Our promise to you … We provide access to multi-specialty developmental services that includes comprehensive assessment, diagnosis and family centered treatment, optimizing potentials and long-term developmental outcomes in infants and children.

If you have concerns regarding your child’s development, please reach out to your child’s pediatrician or medical care provider and request a referral Siskin Children’s Institute.

Siskin is affiliated with the Department of Pediatrics with the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga and with Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. This collaboration increases the access to a wide range of specialty medical services that are needed to provide high-quality comprehensive care to our patients.

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Learn the Signs

As they grow, children are always learning new things. Below are just some of the signs you should look for as your child grows. Use this as a guide, and if you have any concerns, talk with your child's doctor.
At 6 months, many children
  • respond to own name
  • respond to other people’s emotions and often seem happy
  • copy sounds
  • like to play with others, especially parents
At 1 year (12 months), many children
  • use simple gestures, like shaking head “no” or waving “bye-bye”
  • say “mama” and “dada” and exclamations like “uh-oh!”
  • copy gestures
  • respond to simple spoken requests
At 1.5 years (18 months), many children
  • play simple pretend, such as feeding a doll
  • point to show others something interesting
  • show a full range of emotions, such as happy, sad, angry
  • say several single words
At 2 years (24 months), many children
  • say sentences with 2 to 4 words
  • follow simple instructions
  • get excited when with other children
  • point to things or pictures when they are named
At 3 years (36 months), many children
  • show affection for friends without prompting
  • carry on a conversation using 2 to 3 sentences
  • copy adults and friends
  • play make-believe with dolls, animals and people
At 4 years (48 months), many children
  • tell stories
  • would rather play with other children than by themselves
  • play cooperatively with others
Questions to ask your child's doctor
  • Is my child’s development on track for their age?
  • How can I track my child’s development?
  • What should I do if I’m worried about my child’s progress?
  • Where can I get more information?

Diagnosis Services

Specialized pediatricians for developmental care.

At Siskin Children’s Institute we specialize in the care of children with developmental disabilities. Our team provides evaluation of a child’s functioning in numerous areas including their development, social skills, learning, behavior, and daily living activities such as eating and sleeping. We seek to identify each child’s strengths and challenges, then offer treatment recommendations and connection to resources to address the needs unique to this child and family.

Developing a treatment plan for your child is beneficial in many ways. A plan provides the family with a road map for services and further assessments that may be required to clarify diagnostic impressions. This may include referral to other specialists, diagnostic labs and imaging, therapy services, psychometric testing, as well as suggestions for behavioral and environmental modifications.

Early identification of children with developmental deficits is critical for positive long term outcomes. Therefore we partner with primary care providers and community services to connect children to needed interventions as early as possible.

Talk to your pediatrician or medical provider about a referral to Siskin Children’s Institute today.

Facts About Intellectual Disabilities

What is cognitive impairment (intellectual disability)

Cognitive impairment, also referred to as intellectual disability, describes the condition of a child whose intellectual functioning level and adaptive skills are significantly below the average for a child of their chronological age. It is the most common developmental disorder, occurring in approximately 12 of every 1000 children. Varying levels of developmental delays may be identified in a child’s social skills, emotional development, communication capabilities, physical function, and academic skill sets.

The Center for Disease Control defines cognitive impairment among 8-year-old children by a score of 70 or below on a test of intellectual capability, more commonly known as an IQ test. Levels of cognitive impairment severity are defined by specific IQ ranges:

  • Mild Cognitive Impairment – IQ of 50 to 70
  • Moderate Cognitive Impairment – IQ of 35 to 55
  • Severe Cognitive Impairment – IQ 20 to 40
  • Profound Cognitive Impairment – Below 20

Cognitive impairment can be caused by a number of factors. Many instances of cognitive impairment are the result of genetic or chromosomal disorders. Cognitive impairment can also be attributed to injuries or illnesses that occur during pregnancy or early infancy. Extreme malnutrition, inadequate medical care, and exposure to environmental toxins can lead to cognitive impairments as well. With many possible causes, it is often difficult to cite a specific single cause of a cognitive impairment in a child.


Signs of cognitive impairment can be recognized as early as 2 years of age. These symptoms will occur at varying levels depending on the severity of the disorder.

  • Delays in reaching early childhood developmental milestones
  • Difficulty retaining information and learning simple routines
  • Confusion and behavior problems in new situations or places
  • Short attention span
  • Lack of curiosity
  • Difficulty understanding social rules
  • Sustained infantile behavior into toddlerhood or preschool years
  • Difficulty understanding consequences of actions
  • Limited and/or inconsistent communication skills
  • Lack of age-appropriate self-help and self-care skills
Supporting the Child's Success

Children with a cognitive impairment can be successful in school and lead fulfilling lives. They may just need individualized help in learning new skills. Extra time, repeated instruction, and appropriate modeling will help them as they master important life skills, such as appropriate hygiene, personal safety, and social manners. In order to promote independence and developmental progress, parents and educators should be patient and give children the time they need to learn new skills.

Breaking down tasks into smaller steps can be a helpful learning tool for children with cognitive impairments. For instance, getting dressed can be broken down for the child into very small simple steps: Shirt on, buttons, pants on, zipper, button, tuck in shirt, belt, socks, etc. Walk the child through each part of the task, encouraging him to do it independently and praising at success each step. This process, referred to as task analysis, can be used to teach proper hygiene techniques, household chores, or any other skills.

Parents can also support success by staying involved in their child’s academic learning. Know the topics being taught in the classroom and find ways to integrate learning at home. For instance, when the child is learning to tell time, periodically ask them for the time. When he is learning about money, take him to grocery. Point out prices and let him help with the checkout process. Social activities in the community can serve as a valuable learning tool as well. Children with cognitive impairment can model the behavior of their peers, improve social skills, experience new and different settings and most importantly, have fun. To support the child’s success, family members and the professionals providing services to the child should work together to understand his strengths, weaknesses, and interests.

Next Steps

Finding out that a child has a cognitive impairment can be an emotional adjustment. Parents may need time to work through feelings of grief, disappointment or anxiety. Once they have had time to adjust the following can be helpful next steps for support and resources:

Parents can reach out to connect with other families of children with a cognitive impairment.

They should talk to their own families and friends to explain the child’s need and gain their support.

They can also begin to gather the information they will need to raise their child.

Resources on specific topics such as language development, positive behavior management, early intervention and family dynamics may be especially useful.

Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with a cognitive impairment to lead happy and fulfilling lives.

Cognitive impairment is one of the qualifying disabilities for special education and related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). For children three years and older, the local educational system should be contacted for more information on eligibility and special services.

Medical Service Providers
Chattanooga Clinic
Chattanooga Clinic
M.D., M.S.
Nashville Clinic
Chattanooga Clinic