UAB pediatrician sets new clinical guidelines for supporting struggling students

A UAB pediatrician coauthors a new reference for pediatricians to help them support children who are not succeeding in school.
Written by: Macey-Marie Hobson
Media contact: Savannah Koplon

PedsReport3Laura McGuinn, M.D.Laura McGuinn, M.D., has coauthored a newly published report in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, that provides clinical recommendations for pediatricians to help children who are not progressing academically in school. The recommendations give academic failure the same attention as other problems that may impact a student’s ability to succeed.

The report explains that poor academic progress could be a sign of other behavioral, environmental or emotional problems. Pediatricians are often the first providers that are consulted when families are concerned about their child’s academic progress, and a new standard of care for physicians to consider and screen for is needed in this patient population.

“This is a complex challenge – not doing well in school has many causes; rarely or never is it simply ‘laziness’ on the child’s part,” said McGuinn, director of the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Pediatrics. “There is usually a problem underneath it, and it could be a complex problem. The ability for pediatricians to help children who are struggling get back on track hinges on meaningfully understanding why the child is not progressing.” 

This report discusses common presentations, different diagnoses and strategies for pediatricians to help get to the bottom of the struggles presented by children. Additionally, resources are included in the report such as links to screening tests, letter templates and care coordination strategies to guide evaluation and treatment.