Neurodevelopmental Disorders

A child’s brain is not a miniature replica of an adult brain, but rather a brain in continual development, growing, at times tremendously, subject to endless modifications and connections due to the continual stimulation provided by the environment in which it develops.

It is essential to understand the development of the nervous system and its different stages in order to understand the deficits that can arise from abnormal brain development or be caused by damage at an early age. Depending upon the time when these abnormalities or damage occur (during pregnancy, the perinatal period, or infancy/childhood), the impact will vary.

Signs and Symptoms

Depending on the exact kind of neurodevelopmental disorder, the signs and symptoms of such disorder may include:

  • Those that revolve around sociability, such as the inability to maintain eye contact during social interactions, a failure to respond to one’s name, and a lack of facial expressions.
  • Issues pertaining to emotion, such as mood swings, an irritable temper, and an easily frustrated state of mind.
  • Learning based concerns, like problems performing even simple math, difficulty understanding a question, problems reading or spelling (dyslexia), difficulty speaking, the repetition of words without really understanding how to use them, and the inability to properly plan, prioritize, manage time, or focus on a task.
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Depending on the exact kind of neurodevelopmental disorder, the signs and symptoms of such disorder may include:
  • Those that revolve around sociability, such as the inability to maintain eye contact during social interactions, a failure to respond to one’s name, and a lack of facial expressions.
  • Issues pertaining to emotion, such as mood swings, an irritable temper, and an easily frustrated state of mind.
  • Learning based concerns, like problems performing even simple math, difficulty understanding a question, problems reading or spelling (dyslexia), difficulty speaking, the repetition of words without really understanding how to use them, and the inability to properly plan, prioritize, manage time, or focus on a task.

Based on parental responses to survey questions, approximately 15% of children in the United States ages 3 to 17 years were affected by neurodevelopmental disorders, including ADHD, learning disabilities, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, autism, seizures, stuttering or stammering, moderate to profound hearing loss, blindness, and other developmental delays, in 2006–2008.1Among these conditions, ADHD and learning disabilities had the greatest prevalence. Many children affected by neurodevelopmental disorders have more than one of these conditions: for example, about 4% of U.S. children have both ADHD and a learning disability. Some researchers have stated that the prevalence of certain neurodevelopmental disorders, specifically autism and ADHD, has been increasing over the last four decades. Long-term trends in these conditions are difficult to detect with certainty, due to a lack of data to track prevalence over many years as well as changes in awareness and diagnostic criteria. However, some detailed reviews of historical data have concluded that the actual prevalence of autism seems to be rising.

Genetics can play an important role in many neurodevelopmental disorders, and some cases of certain conditions such as intellectual disability are associated with specific genes. However, most neurodevelopmental disorders have complex and multiple contributors rather than any one clear cause. These disorders likely result from a combination of genetic, biological, psychosocial and environmental risk factors. A broad range of environmental risk factors may affect neurodevelopment, including (but not limited to) maternal use of alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs during pregnancy; lower socioeconomic status; preterm birth; low birthweight; the physical environment; and prenatal or childhood exposure to certain environmental contaminants.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disruptive behavior disorder characterized by symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity, occurring in several settings and more frequently and severely than is typical for other individuals in the same stage of development. ADHD can make family and peer relationships difficult, diminish academic performance, and reduce vocational achievement.

Learning Disability

Learning disability (or learning disorder) is a general term for a neurological disorder that affects the way in which a child’s brain can receive, process, retain, and respond to information. A child with a learning disability may have trouble learning and using certain skills, including reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning, and doing math, although learning disabilities vary from child to child. Children with learning disabilities usually have average or above-average intelligence, but there are differences in the way their brains process information.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities defined by significant social, communication, and behavioral impairments. The term “spectrum disorders” refers to the fact that although people with ASDs share some common symptoms, ASDs affect different people in different ways, with some experiencing very mild symptoms and others experiencing severe symptoms. ASDs encompass autistic disorder and the generally less severe forms, Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). Children with ASDs may lack interest in other people, have trouble showing or talking about feelings, and avoid or resist physical contact.

 

 

Intellectual Disability

The most commonly used definitions of intellectual disability (also referred to as mental retardation) emphasize subaverage intellectual functioning before the age of 18, usually defined as an IQ less than 70 and impairments in life skills such as communication, self-care, home living, and social or interpersonal skills. Different severity categories, ranging from mild to severe retardation, are defined on the basis of IQ scores.

“Intellectual disability” is used as the preferred term for this condition in the disabilities sector, but the term “mental retardation” continues to be used in the contexts of law and public policy when designating eligibility for state and federal programs.

Ongoing Research in Pill on Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Pakistan Institute of living and learning has an upbeat team of professionals from across the globe who have worked in this particular area and have an interest to know more about the complexities of neurodevelopmental disorders. Currently, work is being done to explore the phenomenon of self harm and suicide ideation among adolescents with Autism. Another research in progress aims at providing interventions to the parents of children with autism and later its effectiveness will be evaluated.