What does neurodevelopmental disorder mean?
Neuro means of the nerves or nervous system. Both children and adults can have disorders of the nervous system.
When we are talking about children, however, we focus on neurodevelopmental disorders because they are problems which are the result of issues in the development of the brain. These disorders are not seen at birth, but most show some symptoms by the time a child is in preschool.
There are six neurodevelopmental disorders:
- Intellectual Developmental Disorder
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Communication Disorders
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorders
- Learning Disorders
- Motor Disorders
These disorders are diagnosed in one of every six children. If a child has one disorder, he is also likely to have one or more other neurodevelopmental disorders.
Most children have neurodevelopmental disorders mainly due to genetics. For each of the disorders listed, other family members are frequently found to have the same disorder(s).
There can be environmental factors for some of these children too, but not in terms of vaccines. The research on vaccines and the neurodevelopmental disorder, autism, has failed to show any connection. All that they have in common are the symptoms of autism become more apparent at around the same time that the MMR vaccine has been routinely given. However, not giving the MMR vaccine has not stopped the symptoms from appearing.
Environmental factors involved with many of these disorders include premature birth, low birth weight, prenatal alcohol use, and some medications, such as valproate, which is used for seizure, as well as prenatal lead exposure, which directly damages the brain cells.
The sooner that children are diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder, and provided treatment, the better their long-term outcome will be. The interventions are hands-on in terms of teaching skills, providing behavioral support, and using accommodations where needed.
There are no medications to cure these disorders. Medication is used to help stabilize some of the behaviors, such as stimulants for ADHD, and atypical antipsychotics for excessive irritability in children with autism.
There is a great deal of misinformation about these disorders on the Internet. Future articles will focus on each of these neurodevelopmental disorders and the facts as currently known.
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