Neurodevelopmental Disorders (NDD)

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Overview – Neurodevelopmental Disorders (NDD)

Neurodevelopmental Disorders include a range of conditions with onset in the early developmental period of childhood, typically before the child enters grade school. Neurodevelopment orders are characterized by developmental deficits that produce impairments of personal, social, academic, or occupational functioning. The range of developmental deficits varies from very specific limitations of learning or control of executive functions to global impairments of social skills or intelligence. While the symptoms and behaviors of often change or evolve as a child grows older, some disorders are permanent.

Neurodevelopmental Disorders tend to involve dysregulation of the amygdalae, two tiny organs within the limbic system deep in the brain. The amygdalae’s job is to recognize danger and threats and prepare the body to activate Fight-Flight or Conserve-Withdraw. The dysregulation results in an inappropriate response to stimuli. Overactive amygdalae function can produce excessive anxiety and risk aversion, as well as avoidance of social interaction. Underactive amygdalae function can result in high-risk behavior and inappropriate social behavior. Neurodevelopmental Disorders include at least the following:

  • ADHD
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • bipolar Disorder (may not be diagnosed until adulthood)
  • Cerebral palsy (CP)
  • Disorders of communication, speech, and language
  • Down Syndrome
  • Seizure disorder
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Fragile X Syndrome (FXS)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Tic Disorders
  • William’s Syndrome
  • Schizophrenia (may not be diagnosed until late teens but symptoms may be present earlier)

Neurodevelopmental Disorders presents information on four types of disorders, one type each day for four days. These are:

Autism Spectrum Disorder (AUD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental brain disorder characterized by persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts and patterns of behaviors. In addition, the diagnosis requires the presence of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. Because both components are required for a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Social Communication Disorder is diagnosed if no restricted repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities are present.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopment brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. ADHD can make family and peer relationships difficult, diminish academic performance, and reduce vocational achievement. Once considered to be a childhood disorder, ADHD is now acknowledged to persist into adulthood in 50–65 percent of individuals. 

Three types of ADHD can be identified based on prominence of symptoms:

  1. Inattentive type : symptoms for the past 6 months but not hyperactivity-impulsivity
  2. Hyperactive-Impulsive: for the past 6 months but not inattention
  3. Combined type: for the past 6 months with both and hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms
Specific Learning Disorder (SLD)

Specific Learning Disorder is a neurological disorder that is diagnosed when there are specific deficits in an individual’s ability to perceive or process information efficiently and accurately. It is characterized by a reduced ability to listen, think, speak, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. Typically, a Specific Learning Disorder first manifests during the years of formal schooling and is characterized by persistent and impairing difficulties with learning foundational academic skills. Many children affected by neurodevelopmental disorders have more than one specific learning disorder.

Dyslexia is a Specific Learning Disorder that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with:

  • Accurate and/or fluent word recognition 
  • Poor spelling and decoding abilities
  • Inaccurate or slow and effortful reading
  • Accurate and/or fluent word recognition 
  • Reading comprehension

Dyscalculia is a Specific Learning Disorder involving a failure to achieve in mathematics commensurate with chronological age, normal intelligence, and adequate instruction. It is marked by difficulties with:

  • Visualization Visual-spatial perception
  • Processing and discrimination
  • Counting
  • Pattern recognition
  • Sequential memory
  • Working-memory for numbers
  • Retrieval of learned facts and procedures
  • Directional confusion
  • Quantitative processing speed
  • Kinesthetic sequences
  • Perception of time

Dysgraphia is a Specific Learning Disorder that involves:

  • An impaired ability to produce legible and automatic letter writing
  • Failure to use the correct or appropriate word
  • Issues with spelling, handwriting, and translating thoughts to paper
  • Struggle to form letters, numbers, and words by hand
  • Difficulty in thinking and writing at the same time
  • Lack of clarity in written expression 
Intellectual Disorder

Intellectual disorder (formerly referred to as “mental retardation”) is a general term for a neurological disorder that affects the way in which a child’s brain can receive, process, retain, and respond to information. A child with a learning disorder may have trouble learning and using certain skills, including reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning, and doing math, although learning disorders vary from child to child. 

Intellectual disorder is characterized by deficits in general mental abilities. The deficits result in impairments of adaptive functioning, meaning that the individual fails to meet standards of personal independence and social responsibility in one or more aspects of daily life, including communication, social participation, academic or occupational functioning, and personal independence at home or in community settings. The deficits are seen in areas such as:

  • Reasoning
  • Problem-solving
  • Planning
  • Abstract thinking
  • Judgment
  • Academic learning
  • Learning from experience. 

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