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Education: Special Needs


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second opinion

Getting a Second Opinion

by Jack Taulbee, Ed.M., M.A.

April 16, 2013—Many parents have asked me whether they should get a second opinion about their child’s diagnosis or recommended medications. I have always suggested that parents get the advice they need to feel secure about decisions for their child, especially where medication is concerned. However, you also need to know when to stop gathering information and allow yourself to place confidence in your decision.

In addition to seeking a second opinion from a local physician, you may want to approach organizations that specialize in specific disorders such as the Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA). These groups will have medical advisory boards that continually provide updated medical information in newsletters or postings on their website. Often, the doctors and researchers listed on the advisory board may be able to answer your questions.

Also, researchers at nearby major universities may be working on medical research projects focusing on your child’s disorder and will be able to offer the latest information. Through a simple Internet search, you can seek out medical research centers such as the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. They may be involved with neurological and psychological research that applies directly to your child’s disorder and may be looking for volunteers to become part of a specific test program.

I have found researchers who have their work e-mail posted and have often received quick replies from them for my own questions. When writing a doctor or researcher, however, it is extremely important to state your questions as briefly and concisely as possible. Although I have personally found these professionals to be very cordial in their responses, they do not have the time to spend all day answering questions via e-mail. Leave off the personal comments and state the facts as succinctly as possible. Thank them, and then take the information they offer to your child’s physician for further discussion.

For your child’s sake and for your peace of mind, it is not wrong to get a second, third, or even fourth opinion if necessary to feel secure about your decisions for your child. However, try to be careful of chasing second opinions as a way of avoiding some unpleasant facts—or the truth.


April 16, 2013

Jack Taulbee is the author of Understanding Children of Special Needs: What Every Parent Needs to Know.  To contact Jack or order his book, see his Web site.

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