Neurodevelopmental disorders are disabilities related to neurological system and brain. Children suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders have impaired brain functions like emotions, language, memory, self-control, learning ability etc.
According to researchers; there has been a great increase in the prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders in the last decade. According to Sir Jerrold J. Heindel, Sir R. Thomas Zoeller, in Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric (Seventh Edition), “In the 1970s the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) was estimated to be between 4 and 5 in 10,000 children, but today this value is estimated to be 1 in 50 children.”.
Autism Spectrum Disroder
Autism Spectrum disorder is condition of social, communication, language and behavior disability. According to WHO worldwide 1 in 160 children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder while as per a report published in “The NEWS”, roughly 350,000 children are suffering from ASD in Pakistan.
ASD is mostly diagnosed at an early age, reason being the early onset of symptoms. Symptoms of ASD include:
Difficulty in socializing and interacting with people.
At early ages children might have difficulty in speaking while older children have difficulty in using nonverbal behaviors for that purpose.
Unable to initiate a conversation or make an eye contact.
Unable to understand emotions and feelings.
Repetition of sentences and words said by others i.e. Robotic Speech
Minute changes might lead to tantrums and aggression as it is difficult for a child with ASD to adjust to changing environments and routines.
Upto 50% children with ASD suffer from learning disabilities.
There is no cure for ASD, but speech, occupational, behavioral therapies along with educational support help in bringing the disabilities to minimum. More over once diagnosed, parents must be guided in a better way to reduce the social and communication issues, with a positive impact on the person’s wellbeing and quality of life.
Asperger’s syndrome is “high functioning” type of ASD. It is characterized by social and behavioral disabilities with no significant delays or difficulties in language or cognitive development. Some children even show exceptional language and cognitive skills in the field of their interest.
The symptoms are somewhat similar to most of the children suffering from ASD like difficulty in socializing, initiating conversation, making eye contacts together with awkward movements and mannerism, obsession with specific most unusual topics, one sided conversations, lack of emotions etc.
Diagnosis and management is similar to ASD as it is itself a subtype of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Attention Deficiency Hypersensitivity Disorder
It is a condition in which a child is unable to concentrate on a certain task, tends to act without thinking about the consequences and has trouble in sitting at one place. ADHD roughly affects 5 to 7% children and adolescents worldwide. It is further divided into 3 categories:
ADHD is mostly diagnosed between the ages 6 to 12 years. Diagnostic Criteria includes:
Inattentive: Difficulty in sustaining attention on a particular task or activity, regular episodes of distractions, failure of concentration and giving close attention to details.
Hyperactivity/Impulsivity: Unable to sit still, difficulty in playing leisure activities quietly, excessive talking and creating disturbance in class, difficulty in waiting in line or queue etc. These symptoms must persist for at least 6months for diagnosis.
Mostly educational support is the key towards managing ADHD appropriately but behavior therapy also plays a great role for this purpose. Support and advises for the parents along with medications in severe cases may help in controlling the symptoms.
Intellectual disability affecting only 1% of the population worldwide is mostly seen in boys. It is a type of neurodevelopmental disorder in which a child lacks behind in two major mental capabilities:
Adaptive functioning: communication, social participation and independent living.
Intellectual functioning: learning, judgment, problem solving, reasoning, and planning. Hence the child will be unable to meet people, socialize, and support himself in daily tasks and routine life. Moreover difficulty in learning, limited spoken language and unable to regulate emotions will also be seen.
It is possible to diagnose the disability using a combination of clinically present symptoms and thorough Standardized IQ testing. Testing divides Intellectual disability into MILD, MODERATE and SEVERE depending on the full scale IQ score.
A combination of social, recreational and sports activities help in building the missing components of the brain functions. As early as infancy, special education and training can be given which plays an important role in improving the quality of life.
You can also visit your nearby neurologist for regular checkup.