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Unraveling Neurodevelopmental Disorders

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:

  1. 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 mobilehealthconsult2000@yahoo.co.uk
  2. 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 mobilehealthconsult2000@yahoo.co.uk

 

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.

 

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Understanding Autism

Have you ever wondered what exactly autism is? Do you know someone who you think might be autistic? Would you like to understand and relate better with him or her? Are there any available treatments for autism?

Most people have heard of Autistic disorder, more commonly known as Autism, and may have a vague idea of some behaviours to expect from an autistic person. A typical example would be Dustin Hoffman’s award winning portrayal in the 1988 hit movie “Rain Man”. What this article aims to do is not just to give more information about autism, but to elicit a deeper understanding of the disorder so that one can relate better with such people.

According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV), autism should be diagnosed when a person has at least six or more symptoms from the 3 major symptom areas which are Social interactions, Communication and Repetitive and rigid behaviours. It is also noted that these Symptoms should be apparent before 3 years of age. Autism is found 4 times more often in boys than girls. Now to explore these areas and how one can cope with people expressing these symptoms. 

Autistic people have problems with social interactions so you’d find that they don’t express themselves the way A child alone in a school playgroundnormal people do in their speech and gestures and they don’t keep eye contact. They prefer to keep to themselves and seem to lack empathy. This makes it difficult for them to make friends and in fact it doesn’t often seem like they are interested in doing so. Having an autistic child in a normal school setting my not be the best option as they do not enjoy crowds and that much attention either. As they do form attachments to caregivers, it would be preferable for their caregivers to teach them and spend time with them in their homes, a place where they are used to already. Caregivers also have to understand what behaviours to expect and realize it is not their fault that the child seems indifferent or does not want to play with them. It could be frustrating but autistic people need patience, along with the presence and attention of the caregiver.

They also have language problems. Either their sentences are incomplete or they keep repeating the same word over and over. They rarely gesture when they speak so particular attention would have to be paid when they are trying to communicate. Again this requires a lot of patience and understanding. One can try to probe them when they think they have an idea of what the autistic person is trying to say. However they should not be hurried or forced to speak faster or clearer because it would not help the situation.

94387630Finally, they’d have one or more repetitive behaviour patterns. A common one is having specific items that they stick to, like seating on the same chair and the same spot, using the same cup each day and playing with the same toys. They also stick to a strict routine each day, doing the same activities in the same pattern, and have compulsions, such as arranging items in a particular order. It may seem weird but one should not interfere as it may make them very anxious. They have limited interests due to their strict daily pattern so finding what would keep them happy would not be difficult. However, it may be difficult to watch them do repetitive body movements such as turning their heads or flapping their hands again and again. This does not mean there’s a problem as they reward themselves internally for such behaviour. One should just observe to make sure they do not harm themselves in the process.

It is important to treat autistic people not like they have a disorder or like they are weird, as they still have feelings, but as a different type of people. However, there is a possibility of improving their condition and making them closer to normal.

 

Neurofeedback and Autism

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Neurofeedback is one of the treatments that could help improve an autistic persons condition. It is the monitoring and normalizing of the persons brainwave activities through an electroencephalographic (EEG) brain scan. Of the few and limited treatments for autism, in a small number of studies, improvements in speech and social interaction have been found after people with autism used neurofeedback compared to those who didn’t. So it is definitely a treatment one can give a chance in order to improve an autistic persons quality of life. (For more information on neurofeedback visit http://www.mobilehealthconsult.org/?page_id=724 )

April is Autism awareness month, spread the knowledge about autism!

 


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Possessed, Insane or SPECIAL?

Special childrenIn those days and maybe even now, the uneducated or superstitious would say  they are demon possessed,  others refer to them as witches,  the “educated” but uninformed may refer to them as abnormal, or maybe disabled or mentally retarded, but we call them SPECIAL.. and they are Special

Yes Special!

These children are indeed special. Beyond the difficulties they and their caretakers or parents face, these children are a true source of joy to the heart. They make you smile, they make you laugh, they make you cry and they make your wonder how great God is. black child An expectation of birth comes with gladness that is immediately dwindled with the sudden realization that the child carried for 9 months may have a developmental disorder that would affect his/her quality of life.  Some of these disorders such as Down Syndrome which is caused by an abnormality in the genes may be detected at birth while some others cannot be detected prior to birth.

downDevelopmental disabilities are a group of physical or mental conditions that children may present with as a result of an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. They have a low to average Intelligent Quotients (IQ)  and may have difficulties in social and communicative behavior. Learning and teaching proves a herculean task for the children and teachers respectively.These conditions begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning and may improve as the child grows older but usually last throughout a lifetime. Most developmental disabilities begin before a baby is born, but some can happen after birth because of injury, infection, or birth complications, trauma to the brain etc. Early detection and intervention play key roles in helping children with developmental disorders. Usually a delay in speech, motor and physical development may indicate the presence of such disorders. Parents and Teachers need to consult professionals in the field of special education should they observe a delay or disturbing behaviour or symptom.

You may ask how does this concern me. You probably feel you have other problems to deal with. Whether or not you are directly involved with children with developmental disabilities, you have a role to play.

Firstly, these children are often stigmatized and labelled by society because they are considered different from the norm.  They are excluded from mainstream education, holding a job is even more difficult and people believe that they have no potential. Parents may also be frustrated and may not give the necessary care, love and encouragement the children need. Every member of the society needs to learn to accept their differences as unique qualities, after all we are all different people, even twins have observed differences. This is a call to accept and embrace children with developmental disorders as Autism, Down Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome, Learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, and other disorders.

Secondly, people are not aware that these disabilities are genetically caused. Like the title suggests, some people feel they are demon possessed or witches and that’s why you need to help in spreading the word.

Did you know that Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of Pokémon had Autism?

They have great and unique potentials

Only look beyond their disabilities.   kids-smiling Be a VOICE to Children with Special Needs.

They need YOU.

They need ME.

They need LOVE.

Be  their VOICE.

Happy Global Autism Awareness Day.

Always remember, they are Special Children!

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