​Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Never Ignore The Signs

Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Never Ignore The Signs

“It’s a just normal thing; the baby will be fine in no time!” – this is what most of us say if a baby does not achieve a developmental milestone on time. But we don’t realise is that we might be wrong - terribly wrong. Developmental and behavioral disorders are still not understood fully by our society. To make things worse, such disorders are perceived as “mental issues”, which the family wants to desperately keep under wraps fearing the society. And the result? It’s the child who suffers – the disorder does not get detected in the early stages and there’s a huge delay in treatment.

What we need to understand is that children with such disorders are not “different”. They are as good (at times, better) as other children and can live a normal life if you help them. All they need is early intervention, expert medical support and lots of love, understanding, patience and care.

Attention-Deficit Disorder & Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

“Why can’t you just sit?” “Can’t you concentrate for a minute?” “Why are you so distracted?”... these are things we keep asking our kids often. But if you feel it’s getting a bit too much, it might be good to get the child screened for ADHD or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

One of the most common neurobehavioral disorders that’s characterised by hyperactivity, lack of attention, impulsivity or a combination of these factors ADHD often extends to adulthood. ADHD can be effectively managed if diagnosed early. ADHD is detected using well-tested diagnostic methods and treatment includes medical, educational, behavioral, and/or psychological interventions. Remember, ADHD is a lifelong disorder that can impair one’s life, including his or her home, school, work and relationships. Make sure you don’t ignore the signs.

Expressive Language Disorder

A developmental disorder that limits the child’s vocabulary, ability to remember words and string complex, lengthy sentences, children with expressive disorder often start speaking late and experience delays acquiring expressive language. Standardised expressive language, non-verbal intellectual tests, functional assessments can help detect ELD. Speech therapy is beneficial for children with ELD.

Learning Disabilities (LD)

A group of neurological disorders that emerge in childhood and characterised by difficulty in learning, sorting and storing information; children with learning disabilities have average or above average intelligence. They may also have one or more difficulties with skills like listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning or mathematical abilities. A lifelong condition, learning disabilities can be managed with proper intervention, training and strategies.

Mental Retardation

A disability that occurs in that limits intellectual functioning and adaptive skills, Mental Retardation leads to difficulties in communication, conceptualising skills, socialising skills, taking care of one self, social skills, community use, self-direction, health and safety, functional academics and everyday life as a whole. A lifelong condition that’s untreatable, providing personalised support can improve functioning, self-determination, societal inclusion and well-being.

Neural Tube Defects

Birth defects of the spinal cord and/or brain due to malformation of the neural tube, this disorder leads to learning disabilities, social issues, lower extremity paralysis, loss of bowel or bladder control, and hydrocephalus (water on the brain that can lead to retardation unless surgically treated). The most common neural tube defect is Spina Bifida, where the spinal cord does not close over the nerve column during the prenatal period. With new medical treatments and technology, people with spina bifida can expect to live a normal life.

Phenylketonuria (PKU)

A metabolic disorder, PKU can cause various degrees of mental retardation, seizures and other neurological problems. With early screening and dietary regulation, children with PKU can expect to develop and lead a normal life.

Seizure Disorders

A neurological disorder that may cause physical convulsions due to uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain, SD can develop at any time of life, especially in early childhood, during adolescence or old age. Treatments for this condition include medical management, surgery, ketogenic diet and electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

A disability hat arises as a result of a serious injury in the brain due to an accident; insufficient oxygen supply to the brain, poisoning or infection, Traumatic Brain Injuries may lead to impairment in cognition, language, social skills, memory, attention, reasoning, behavior, physical functioning, psychological functioning, information processing, or speech and also physical challenges including moving around, body balance, coordination, fine motor skills, and endurance. TBI may require medical/ surgical management and extensive rehabilitation.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder or manic depression is a mood disorder wherein there is a manic phase of elation, hyperactivity and hyper imagination and a slump/ depressive phase of inhibition, slowness to conceive ideas, anxiety and sadness. Bipolar symptoms may show from infancy or early childhood or emerge all of a sudden in adolescence or adulthood. Children with bipolar experience severe and sudden mood swings/changes several times a day. Bipolar can be managed with medication, close monitoring, education about the illness, counselling /psychotherapy for the child and his or her family, stress control, diet modulation, good sleep cycle and exercise.

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)

A complex and often misunderstood neurological disorder, CAPD is the inability of to recognise or understand sounds inspite of having normal hearing ability. Children with CAPD cannot rocess auditory information passed between the ear and the brain fully and have difficulties hearing when there’s background noise, differentiating between similar sounds or words, listening long enough to complete a task and remembering information. CAPD adversely affects language skills and need to be managed with the help of trained speech-language pathologists and audiologists.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a disorder caused by damage to the brain before, during or shortly after birth. Cerebral palsy affects body movement and muscle coordination. Children with cerebral palsy may not be able to walk, talk, eat or play the same ways as other children. Although a lifelong condition, sustained training and therapy can help improve function.

Down Syndrome

A chromosomal abnormality that changes the course of that may cause mild to severe mental retardation and speech/ language impairment. The diagnosis is usually at birth through physical characteristics such as a large tongue, heart problems, poorly toned muscles, flat facial features and confirmed by way of chromosomal testing. A lifelong disability, Down Syndrome can be treated through educational and behavioral interventions, in addition to speech and language interventions, occupational therapies, behavior modification and parent training.

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