Assess by Means of Observation

Every effort should be made to gain information regarding a young child prior to interacting with him or her directly. Infants and young children communicate a normal level of consciousness through age-appropriate motor and social responses to their environment. Observe the child's behavior from a distance, preferably without his or her awareness. This can often be accomplished while obtaining the history from the caretakers. Antipyretic therapy and satisfying hunger are often crucial to achieving this period of optimal observation. Often more is learned regarding neurologic status from a brief period of observation than from the traditional physical examination. Nonemergent, uncomfortable examination components and procedures should be performed last.

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