The neurodevelopmental disorders are a group of conditions with onset in the developmental period. They typically manifest early in development, often before the child enters grade school, and are characterised by developmental deficits that produce impairments of personal, social, academic, or occupational functioning.
Intellectual disability/intellectual developmental disorder is characterised by deficits in general mental abilities, such as reasoning, problem solving, planning, abstract thinking, judgement, academic learning, and learning from experience.
Global developmental day is diagnosed when an individual fails to meet expected developmental milestones in several areas of intellectual functioning.
The communication disorders include language disorder, speech sound disorder, social communication disorder, and childhood onset fluency disorder. The first three disorders are characterised by persistent deficits in development and use of language, speech, and social communication respectively.
Childhood onset fluency disorder is characterised by disturbances of the normal fluency and motor production of speech, including repetitive sounds or syllables, prolongation of consonants or vowel sounds, broken words, blocking, or words produced with an excess of physical tension. They begin early in life and may produce lifelong functional impairments.
Autism spectrum disorder is characterised by persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, including deficits in social reciprocity, nonverbal communicative behaviours used for social interaction, and skills in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships. It also includes deficits in language and communication. There is the presence of restricted repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities there too. Lastly, sensory issues may also be present.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is defined by impairing levels of inattention, disorganisation, and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity. Inattention and disorganisation entail inability to stay on task, seeming not to listen, and losing materials, at levels that are inconsistent with age or developmental level. Hyperactivity-impulsivity entails overactivity, fidgeting, inability to stay seated, intruding into other people’s activities, and inability to wait. ADHD often persists into adulthood, with resultant impairments of social, academic and occupational functioning.
The neurodevelopmental motor disorders include developmental coordination disorder, stereotypic movement disorder, and tic disorders.
Developmental coordination disorder is characterised by deficits in the acquisition and execution of coordinated motor skills and is manifested by clumsiness and slowness or inaccuracy of performance of motor skills that cause interference with activities of daily living.
Stereotypic movement disorder is diagnosed when an individual has repetitive, seemingly driven, and apparently purposeless motor behaviours, such as hand flapping, body rocking, head banging, self biting, or hitting.
Tic disorders are characterised by the presence of motor or vocal tics, which are sudden, rapid, recurrent, nonrhythmic, stereotyped motor movements or vocalisations.
Specific learning disorder is diagnosed when there are specific deficits in an individual’s ability to perceive or process information efficiently or accurately. It first manifests during the years of formal schooling and is characterised by persistent and impairing difficulties with learning foundational academic skills in reading, writing, and/or maths.
While the exact causes of neurodevelopmental disorders are not fully understood, research suggests that a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors contribute to their development. Here are some common factors believed to play a role in the causes of neurodevelopmental disorders :
The treatment for neurodevelopmental disorders focuses on managing symptoms, improving functioning, and providing support for individuals with these conditions. Treatment plans are typically tailored to the specific needs and challenges associated with each disorder. Here are some common approaches used in the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders :