Patients and their families are instantly put at ease upon meeting Dr. James Van Decar, a neurodevelopmental pediatrician at Siskin Children’s Institute. He enters every room with a smile and a mission: to listen deliberately. Having practiced in developmental disabilities for more than 30 years – with his résumé including a fellowship in development disabilities and multiple assignments at air force bases across the country – Dr. Van Decar has grown to understand the power of a listening ear, as well as the virtue of patience. He shares, “In order to understand a child’s needs, we must first fully understand that child’s challenges. This may take time, and our parents must be patient as the evaluation and treatment unfolds.” For Dr. Van Decar, this is time well spent. “The best part of my job is getting to work with children every day,” he says.
“Positive feedback from the families I see is the best reward.”
1. What sets your practice apart?
Siskin is a clinic, therapy center, and school, all dedicated to children with developmental disabilities. The integration of medical, therapeutic, and educational services in one setting is unique not only in the Chattanooga area, but statewide and even nationwide.
2. What is one of your happiest professional moments?
I have a happiest moment every day – whenever I can help a parent understand their child’s disability and make sure that child has the best opportunity to reach their maximum potential.
3. What is your philosophy when it comes to the care of your patients?
Each child is unique, and as such, each child deserves my full attention and thorough evaluation in order to fully understand their needs.
4. What would you consider to be your main strengths?
I approach my visits calmly and try to spend most of the time listening. However, when I do get to talk, I am straightforward with regards to my assessment and fully explain the treatments I’m recommending.
5. What do you see as the most exciting new development for your profession?
The surge in our understanding of the underlying genetic and environmental causes of developmental disabilities is incredible. Through this ever-increasing body of knowledge, we will develop new and better treatments and even learn how to prevent disabilities before they occur.
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