brain made of metal gears

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 resulting from brain development issues. These disorders, not seen at birth, 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

One in every six children is diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder. If a child has one condition, he is also likely to have one or more neurodevelopmental disorders.

Most children have neurodevelopmental disorders mainly due to genetics. Other family members are frequently found to have the same disorder(s) for each of the disorders listed.

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 they have in common is the symptoms of autism become more apparent at around the same time as the MMR vaccine administration. 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, seizure medication, and prenatal lead exposure, directly damaging the brain cells.

The sooner children are diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder and provided treatment, the better their long-term outcome will be. The interventions involve teaching skills, providing behavioral support, and using accommodations where needed.

There are no medications to cure these disorders. Medication will help stabilize some 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 neurodevelopmental disorder and the current facts.

If you are interested in an in-depth look at three factors of children and adolescents that can create positive or negative futures, check out my program, Developing a Calm Classroom.