Best Paediatric Neurology Hospital | Aster Medcity India

Neurological Problems In Children: It’s Not A “Small” Problem

Children too, just like adults can suffer from neurological disorders and diseases that require medical or surgical management. Neurological problems in children are varied, ranging from congenital (by birth) disorders to malformations of the brain or spine to developmental disorders to epilepsy to tumours. It is extremely important to keep a close watch on children and seek immediate medical help if you notice any unusual signs or symptoms/ delay in growth/ behavioural pattern, for neurological problems in children can

Aster KIND

Aster KIND (Kids Integrated Neurology & Developmental Centre) at Aster Medcity is a one-of-its-kind facility where a team of experts from various subspecialities works together to provide comprehensive care for children with paediatric neurological, developmental, behavioural and emotional problems.

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Common Neurological Disorders

There are various diseases that affect the brain, spine and nerves in children, leading to lead complications including delay in normal growth and development. The key to successful management of neuro diseases in children is early detection.

Common Neurological Disorders in children include:

  • Brain tumors
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Chiari malformation
  • Craniofacial abnormalities
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Developmental disorders
  • Encephalopathy
  • Epilepsy
  • Gait/walking disorders
  • Gilles de la Tourette syndrome
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hypotonia
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Movement disorders
  • Myelomeningocele (Spina bifida)
  • Spasticity
  • Spine tumor
  • Spinal malformation/ Scoliosis
  • Spinal cord, nerve and muscle diseases
  • Tethered cord syndrome
  • Tremors
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Autism: Know The Signs

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by deficits in social communication and interaction, along with repetitive, restrictive patterns in behavior, interests and activities. The term “spectrum” helps understand the concept of autism better, as the intensity, symptoms and behaviours vary considerably in each person.

Children (adults as well) with autism can have varied capabilities ranging from cognitive and language impairments (nonverbal and asocial) to superior cognitive and language abilities (those who pursue studies and career). In addition to learning and cognitive impairment, autism can also lead to sensory and feeding problems.

Early Signs Of Autism In BabiesSeek medical advice if you notice that your baby does not:

  • Make eye contact (does not look at you when being fed)
  • Smile when smiled at
  • Respond when called by name
  • Respond to a familiar voice
  • Initiate or respond to cuddling
  • Make any noise to get your attention
  • Imitate your movements and facial expressions
  • Reach out and ask to be picked up
  • Play with other people or show interest and enjoyment
  • Wave goodbye, point finger or use gestures to communicate
  • Follow gestures when you point things
  • Follow objects visually
  • Ask for help/ requirements

Seek immediate evaluation by your child’s pediatrician if your baby does shows delays in achieving the following developmental milestones

  • By 6 months: No big smiles/ joyful expressions
  • By 9 months: No sharing of sounds/ smiles/ other facial expressions
  • By 12 months: Lack of response when called by name
  • By 12 months: No babbling or “baby talk”
  • By 12 months: No gestures like pointing, reaching or waving
  • By 16 months: No spoken words
  • By 24 months: No meaningful, non-repeating two-word phrases

Signs Of Autism In Older Children

As children get older many warning signs and symptoms emerge, but they are usually related to impaired social skills, speech and language incapability, non-verbal communication difficulties and rigid behavior.

Signs Of Social Difficulties

  • Disinterested / unaware of other people or what’s going on around them
  • Prefers not to be touched, held or cuddled
  • Doesn’t connect with others, play or make friends
  • Doesn’t play “pretend” games/ play in groups/ imitate others/ use toys creatively
  • Trouble understanding or expressing feelings
  • Won’t listen when talked to
  • Doesn’t share interests/ achievements/ toys with others
  • Live in their own world, aloof and detached

Signs Of Speech And Language Difficulties

  • Speaks in an abnormal tone and/or with an odd rhythm or pitch
  • Starts talking late
  • Keeps repeating the same words or phrases
  • Incorrect use of language
  • Difficulty in communicating needs
  • Doesn’t understand, statements, questions and directions
  • Takes what is said too literally (misses the humour or sarcasm in it)
  • Responds to a question by repeating it
  • Refers to themselves as a third person

Signs Of Nonverbal Communication Difficulties

  • Avoids eye contact
  • Unmatched facial expressions
  • Does not respond to other’s facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures Acts robotic: very few gestures
  • Unusual reaction to sights, smells, textures, and sounds; extra sensitive to
  • loud noises
  • Abnormal posture, clumsiness or ways of walking
  • Difficulties in social interaction

Signs Of Inflexibility

  • Follows a rigid routine
  • Difficulty in adapting to any changes in schedule or environment
  • Abnormal attachment to toys or even odd objects like keys, light switches etc.
  • Lines up/arranges things in a certain order
  • Narrow topic of interest, often involving numbers or symbols (like memorising and reciting facts about maps etc.)
  • Watching moving objects or focusing on one specific part of an object
  • Repeats the same actions or movements over and over again like rocking or
  • twirling (self-stimulatory behavior, or “stimming”)

Self-stimulatory behaviours

  • Hand flapping
  • Moving fingers in front of the eyes
  • Watching moving objects
  • Flicking light switches on and off
  • Repeating words or noises
  • Snapping fingers
  • Tapping ears
  • Scratching
  • Lining up toys
  • Spinning objects
  • Wheel spinning
  • Rocking back and forth
  • Spinning in a circle
  • Finger flicking
  • Head banging
  • Staring at lights
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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 proved wrong, terribly wrong. Developmental and behavioral disorders are still not understood fully by our society.

To make things worse, such disorders are perceived “mental issues”, which the family wants to desperately keep under wraps fearing ostracization. And the result? It’s the child who suffers – the disorder does not get detected in its 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 help 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?”. This is something 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, 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, characterised by difficulty in learning, sorting and storing information; children with LD 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, LD 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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