Asides physical disabilities, other psychological disabilities exists all around us and poor knowledge regarding these conditions and the available treatment/management options have driven so many to make uninformed choices regarding their mental health as well as that of their children. One of the groups under mental health related conditions is the neurodevelopmental disorders. For long, so many people have wondered what they are, some have blamed the wrong sources for the outcome of their poorly developed child or children as the case may be. Others have made huge investments in an attempt to help their children. Also, some with these conditions have been relegated to thinking it is a death sentence. This is not so as individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders can live successful lives with the right support.
To understand neurodevelopmental disorders, we have to first break the words into smaller and easy to understand parts.
Neuro – has to do with the central nervous system which comprise of the brain along with several neurons carrying messages within the nervous system. It basically relates to how the brain functions.
Developmental – is concerned with the process of development or how something gradually attains a specific function.
Disorders – relates to a lack of order within a system or deficits within a system that is expected to function in an orderly manner.
Neurodevelopmental disorders therefore primarily have to do with problems that affect brain development or problems with the brain or neurological functions. They can occur as a result of abnormalities in brain development or brain damage at an early age which could be during pregnancy, childbirth or infancy/early childhood.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, (DSM-5) (2013), Neurodevelopmental disorders refer to a group of conditions with onset in the developmental period. The disorders usually manifest early in development and are characterized by developmental deficits that produce impairments of personal, social, academic or occupational functioning. The range of developmental deficits ranges from very specific limitations of learning or control of executive functions, to global impairments of social skills or intelligence. In addition to this, more than one neurodevelopmental disorders can co-occur in a single individual.
TYPES OF NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS
SPECIFIC LEARNING DISORDERS: usually involves problems with learning core academic skills such as in math, reading and writing. Some types of specific learning disorders include
- Dyslexia: is characterized by impairments in ability to recognize words, poor reading skills, poor spelling skills and poor comprehension of written material.
- Dyscalculia: is characterized by impairments in basic math or calculation skills. This is usually manifested in persistent poor numeracy skills.
- Dysgraphia: is characterized by impairments in writing. It can manifest as poor handwriting, poor letter/number formation, poor spelling and poor written expression.
ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD): is a disruptive behaviour disorder characterized by presenting symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and or hyperactivity. Some symptoms of inattentive subtype of ADHD include; difficulty sustaining attention during tasks, difficulty organizing tasks & activities, difficulty following instructions or completing tasks, lack of attention to detail and committing careless mistakes, easily distracted by extraneous stimuli, etc. some symptoms of hyperactive/impulsive subtype of ADHD include; inability sit still, frequently fidgeting or squirming in chair, excessive energy, talks excessively, difficulty waiting his/her turn, etc.
AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD): this refers to a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that are characterized by communication, social interaction and behavioural problems which vary differently among individuals. Some symptoms of autism spectrum disorder include; avoiding eye-contact, using facial expressions that does not match situation, inappropriate laughter/crying, inability to read social cues, tendency to play alone, appearing to be in his/her own world, appearing to be uninterested or unaware of people around, repetitive behaviour amongst others.
INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY (MENTAL RETARDATION): is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by subaverage intellectual functioning before the age of eighteen years. Often defined by an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of less than 70 and impairments in life skills such as adaptive skills, communication skills, self-care, home living and social or interpersonal skills.
COMMUNICATION DISORDERS: This type of disorder occurs when language development does not follow the normal or expected pattern of development. It could also be as a result of significant deficits in any aspects of language development. It can be of various forms which include; expression disorder, comprehension disorder, speech disorder (dyslalia) and stuttering.
CAUSES OF NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS
There are several factors that could cause neurodevelopmental disorders. Some of them include:
- Genetic disorder
- Brain trauma
- Smoking, illicit drug usage and alcohol consumption during pregnancy
- Immune dysfunction
- Metabolic disorders
- Infectious diseases
- Nutritional deficits
- Preterm births and Low birth weights
- Prenatal and childhood exposure to environmental contaminants
DIAGNOSING NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS
Mental health professionals are trained to carry out various kinds of evaluation to assess neurodevelopmental disorders. At Mobile Health consult (Brain Dynamics), our team of professionals utilize innovative techniques for evaluating neurodevelopmental disorders some of which include the following:
- PSYCHO-EDUCATIONAL EVALUATION: this is a comprehensive evaluation technique that assesses cognitive functioning, behavioural functioning, social-emotional development as well as academic achievement of individuals through standardized testing. To schedule an appointment for a psycho-educational evaluation, kindly send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- NEUROFEEDBACK EVALUATION: this is a brain training technique used to evaluate brain activity and detect irregular brainwave patterns at different brain aspects. To schedule an appointment for a neurofeedback evaluation, kindly send an email to email@example.com
TREATMENT/MANAGEMENT OF NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS
At Mobile Health Consult (Brain Dynamics), we offer a wide range of evidence based therapy modalities for the treatment/management of neurodevelopmental disorders such as:
- Neurofeedback therapy
- Biofeedback therapy
- Audio-visual entrainment therapy
- Individualized Educational Support
- Cognitive enhancement therapy
Contact us today on www.mobilehealthconsult.org to schedule a life changing appointment with us.