An August 15, 2008, article in the Bangor Daily News documents the retirement of Doctor Leonardo Leonidas, pediatrician extraordinaire. After 37 years of practice, much to the chagrin of his patients, Dr. Leo has closed the door to his office for the last time.
Many physicians are sorely missed by their patients when they step down from practice, but Dr. Leo is a bit of a maverick. For most of his career he has practiced as a solo pediatrician. He believes that educating parents is the key to quality healthcare delivery. He has written two books on child rearing and operates an open website for his patients, Brilliant Baby.com.
Dr. Leo counsels parents to indoctrinate their children from a young age with great expectations: achieve a graduate degree before getting married and having children. He firmly believes that children should not be exposed to television before six years of age. He’s currently working on a third book—about pregnancy. Dr. Leo opines that during pregnancy, women should be protected against undue stress, anxiety and other negative emotions to ensure healthier babies, ones less likely to develop attention problems and learning disabilities.
Dr. Leo teaches parents to stimulate the minds of their children from birth. His apple and orange experiment is a case in point. By coupling visual and verbal stimulation, parents can teach infants as young as 4 months of age to differentiate between the two fruits in as little as 7 days. Almost all children can learn to select the right fruit in 2 to 4 weeks.
One of Dr. Leo’s 5-year-old patients, Ciarra, can tie her shoes and read a book, even though she has Down syndrome. Dr. Leo writes: “Early brain stimulation through playing, reading, counting, and other fun activities could make a big difference in the advanced development of all children.”
Perhaps those of us who still practice clinical pediatrics can garner a few insights from Dr. Leonardo Leonidas as well.