Thomas solves early developmental mysteries
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 10:41
Dr. Sherri Thomas used to be able to diagnose an illness, write a prescription and send her young patients on their way.
|Dr. Sherri Thomas working with Sebastian Farley, 5, at her office in Bowling Green. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
That was when she was a general pediatrician. But now as a developmental pediatrician, her patients' problems are often more complicated.
They aren't cured in one visit.
"Some days I get home and say to my husband, what I would do for a straight up strep throat," Thomas said.
But Thomas knows her patients and their families are counting on her to make difficult diagnoses and unlock the answers that can turn around their lives.
Bad days are when the answers seem to elude Thomas. Good days are like one recently when she saw big changes in a young boy who had severe behavioral problems. "I'm going to his theater play tonight," she said. "I consider that a success."
Thomas, who previously practiced as a general pediatrician in Bowling Green, saw the growing needs of children with early developmental problems.
"There were more and more children coming to our office with developmental needs," she said.
So Thomas returned to school to specialize in developmental pediatrics. She opened her new office in Bowling Green in August of 2011, and was flooded by families seeking help.
On Tuesday, Thomas was named Wood County's Champion of Children by the Friends of Wood County Court Appointed Special Advocates.
Her efforts to help children have made a major difference in the many lives, according to Bowling Green Pediatrician Michael Lemon.
"She's done a tremendous amount," he said. "She's someone who really advocates for the kids."
Prior to Thomas opening her office, families had to travel out of the county for a developmental specialist.
"They had to go to Toledo, and the wait was immense," Lemon said. "We're so lucky to have her. It's a blessing."
Thomas has been able to solve developmental mysteries for many children, according to Beth Instone, developmental disabilities clinical supervisor with the Wood County Health Department who works with Thomas.
"Many of the children we see have been to multiple doctors before they come to see us," Instone said. "These children often have complex issues with no clear-cut diagnoses. Dr. Thomas has a gift of being able to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Many families leave our office crying tears of joy because now, for the very first time, they have answers and hope for their child."
Thomas doesn't stop until she finds answers, Instone said.
"Dr. Thomas is a tireless advocate for children with special needs. She wants to make sure every child under her care has the opportunity to succeed to their fullest potential," Instone said.
Thomas knows something about raising a child with special needs. She and her husband adopted a child in 1984 who was a shaken baby syndrome victim. That child died in 2007.
Since opening her office, Thomas has found her services in great demand, with a waiting list for new patients stretching out till September.
"We did not know when we opened the doors what the biggest need would be," Thomas said. More than half of the parents bring in their children to have autism spectrum disorders ruled out. Others come because of attention problems, delays in speech or motor skills, cerebral palsy or reading delays.
Children come from as far west as the Indiana border, as far south as Lima and as far east as Ottawa County, Thomas said.
By using a team approach with several specialists in her office, Thomas helps put together the pieces to diagnose children's problems. Many children struggle with developmental problems at school until they are properly treated.
"It's very satisfying," she said.