The National Institute of Mental Health defines neurodevelopmental disorders as: “A group of heterogeneous conditions that are characterised by delay and disruption in the acquisition of abilities in a range of developmental areas, including motor, social, language, and cognition.”
Behavioural and cognitive illnesses known as neurodevelopmental disorders appear during the developing phase and involve considerable challenges in the learning and performance of intellectual, physical, language, or social activities.
Certain people with neurodevelopmental problems have certain deficits (such as trouble maintaining focus, for example), but they do not prevent them from leading a functional, independent life. Others, on the other hand, might need permanent assistance with basic daily skills, such as the ability to walk and feed oneself.
Diseases of intellectual development, autism spectrum diseases, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), among others, are examples of neurodevelopmental disorders. A chronic pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that negatively affects academic, occupational, or social functioning is a hallmark of ADHD. Significant restrictions in intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour, which refer to challenges with daily conceptual, social, and practical abilities that are done in daily life, are characteristics of intellectual development disorders.
The term “autism spectrum disorder” (ASD) refers to a wide range of disorders that are distinguished by some level of difficulty with social contact and reciprocal communication as well as persistent, rigid, repetitive, and unchanging patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities. Effective treatment options exist including psychosocial interventions, behavioural interventions, and occupational and speech therapy. For certain diagnoses and age groups, medication may also be considered.
What Factors Contribute to Neurodevelopmental Disorders?
Various factors can impair average brain growth, even though the cause is unknown in many circumstances. The following are the different types of reasons:
Genetic causes: Genetic mutations and metabolic circumstances at conception can affect the child’s mental abilities.
Prenatal causes: During pregnancy, dietary deficits and maternal infections are common. These factors may lead to neurodevelopmental disorders in children.
Perinatal causes: If the baby suffers from problems during labour, such as a lack of oxygen (hypoxia), it may impact its brain development.
Postnatal causes: These factors include traumatic brain injury, infections such as meningitis, and post-natal exposure to environmental toxins.
Types of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Some common types of neurodevelopmental disorders are”
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disruptive behaviour disorder defined by symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity. These signs occur frequently and more severely than is expected for other people at the same developmental stage.
ADHD may cause havoc on family and peer relationships and academic performance or occupational success.
Many kids with ADHD exhibit traits of both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. However, some kids only exhibit hyperactive habits, while others mostly exhibit inattentive ones.
The basic symptoms of ADHD might alter with time for a person. Parents report that about one in four children with ADHD also have conduct disorders, and about half of children with ADHD also have learning disabilities.
The term “intellectual disability” is preferred in the disability community for this condition. However, when assessing state and federal programmes, the term “mental retardation” is still used in legal and policy contexts.
The causes of intellectual disability are now known to include inherited defects, traumatic injuries, or prenatal occurrences such as maternal infection and alcohol exposure. However, the exact cause of intellectual disability is unknown in 30 to 50 per cent of cases.
The reasons of severe retardation (IQ below 50) are simple to pinpoint. The reasons of moderate retardation, on the other hand, are unknown in more than 75% of cases (IQ between 50 and 70).
Where the cause is unknown, a variety of environmental contaminants may contribute to moderate retardation. According to research, intellectual impairment is linked to environments with high lead or mercury levels.
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterised by chronic impairments in social interaction and communication as well as by constrained, repetitive patterns of activity. The impact on the person’s social, occupational, and/or other significant areas of everyday life occurs early in development, frequently within the first two years of life. The specific causes of ASD are unknown, however research indicates that both genes and environment play significant roles.
The term “spectrum disorders” alludes to the fact that different persons experience different symptoms. While people with ASDs frequently experience similar symptoms, some people only show modest symptoms, while others experience more severe symptoms.
Social, emotional, and communication difficulties are common in people with ASD. They might keep doing specific things and resist changing their routines. Numerous ASD sufferers also exhibit various modes of cognition, attention, and response.
The autism spectrum covers the following disorders:
- Autistic disorder and its less extreme conditions
- Asperger’s syndrome
- Pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)
Children with ASDs may be uninterested in social interactions, struggle to express and communicate their emotions, and avoid or oppose physical contact. Children with ASDs experience a wide range of communication issues; some talk clearly while others cannot.
Other distinctive traits of ASDs include restrictive and repetitive interests or actions, such as lining up objects, flapping hands, swinging the body, and running in circles.
Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Treatment
Neurodevelopmental problems can be treated in several ways. Depending on the sort of illness each person has, there is a wide range of treatments for neurodevelopmental disorders.
Pharmaceutical and non-pharmacological therapy are two different categories of treatment, with the latter category currently having the greatest options.
Non-pharmacological therapies include behavioural therapy, emotional support, and cognitive rehabilitation. They encourage skills that the child hasn’t fully developed while also giving them the necessary encouragement to have fulfilling lives.