Breaking Down Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Their Early Signs

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Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDS) and mental health conditions are now seen as various developmental concerns in early childhood or before birth. According to the CDC, 1 in 44 children have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The prevalence rate for ADHD is 10%, and over 3 million children between the ages of 4-17 years old have been diagnosed with this disorder. 

Types of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Neurodevelopmental Disorders come in various types

Intellectual

Intellectual Neurodevelopmental Disorders are a disorder that affect a person’s intellectual and neurodevelopmental aspects. Examples of INDs include Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Prader-Willi Syndrome, and Rett Syndrome. The disorder is caused by different factors such as changes in chromosomes, environment, virus infections during pregnancy, and other genetic diseases. It is characterized by delays in development which affect speech, language, motor skills, and behavior. These vary from one patient to another, depending on their condition.

Communication

Communication disorders are conditions that impair the ability to receive and process language. Though many people consider communication disorders and speech disorders synonymous, there is a difference between the two. Communication disorders refer to conditions that hinder an individual’s ability to communicate effectively with others, while speech disorders occur when a person has trouble producing sounds. These disorders can occur in any setting but often undermine academic achievement. They can lead children to academic failure and anxiety, negatively affecting their confidence, behavior, and self-esteem.

Motor

Motor disorders are characterized by problems with voluntary movements and physical and mental slowing. These disorders can manifest differently depending on which part of the nervous system is affected, but they can all lead to reduced mobility and quality of life. The causes vary from severe trauma and infections, to genetic defects and degenerative neurological diseases.

Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a common neurobiological disorder that inhibits the ability of an individual to control their impulses. It results in the child being unable to control their behavior and focus on one task at a time. The symptoms most commonly associated with ADHD include:

•    The inability to maintain attention

•    Difficulty focusing on one thing for a long period

•    Hyperactivity

These characteristics can lead to disruptive classroom behavior and problems with peer relationships and other social situations.

Signs of ASD

Behavioural:

•    Inappropriate social interaction

•    Poor eye contact

•    Compulsive behavior

•    Impulsivity

•    Repetitive movements

•    Self-harm

•    Persistent repetition of words or actions

Developmental: 

•    Learning disability

•    Speech delay in a child

Cognitive:

•    Intense interest in a limited number of things 

•    Problem paying attention

Psychological:

•    Unaware of others’ emotions

•    Depression

Signs of ADHD

•    Being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings.

•    Constantly fidgeting.

•    Being unable to concentrate on tasks.

•    Excessive physical movement.

•    Excessive talking.

•    Being unable to wait their turn.

•    Acting without thinking.

•    Interrupting conversations.

Diagnosing Developmental Disorders

Diagnosing a developmental disorder is extremely difficult, as the brain develops during childhood. There are many tests to help doctors make an accurate diagnosis, but in reality, there’s no single test that can pinpoint the exact condition. So how do doctors figure things out?

Some developmental disorders are diagnosed through a process of elimination. Physicians rule out other causes for the child’s symptoms before diagnosing autism. For example, other disorders, such as Fragile X syndrome and tuberous sclerosis complex, aren’t easy to diagnose. These medical conditions can present similar symptoms and be associated with other disabilities or genetic syndromes. 

As a result, patients often receive a string of incorrect diagnoses before finally being correctly identified as having one of these conditions by a doctor familiar with their possible signs and symptoms.

The early signs of autism can be tricky to identify. Here are a few things you should look for to determine whether your child needs further testing. If you think it is time to find support, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

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