Developmental Disorders and Developmental Delays
There are several different disorders that can affect development in many ways.
Some of the most common are:
- Mental retardation is the most common developmental disorder, affecting one out of every 100 school children in the U.S., according to the CDC. This disability occurs in childhood and is characterized by limitations in intellectual functions and learning skills. Difficulties with communication, social skills and self care are common.
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders, characterized by over-activity, inattentiveness, impulsive behavior or a combination of the three. Usually diagnosed in childhood, it can often persist into adulthood. ADHD can be treated through medical and behavioral therapies.
- Autism is a disorder that is characterized by impaired communication and social skills, along with frequent repetitive behavior. The signs of this disorder usually begin before a child reaches the age of three. Autism affects information processing in the brain.
- Cerebral palsy is one of the most common congenital disorders of childhood. It is caused by damage to the brain that occurs before, during, or shortly after birth. Seizures, abnormal speech, hearing and visual impairments, and mental retardation along with body movement and muscle coordination difficulties. Are common symptoms. Although cerebral palsy, with symptoms that range from mild to severe, is a lifelong condition, training and therapy can help improve function.
- Down Syndrome is a chromosomal abnormality that alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with the syndrome. Mental retardation and speech delay are commonly present in those affected. The diagnosis is usually suspected at birth, and is confirmed through chromosomal testing. The disorder, although associated with lifelong disability, can be treated through various behavioral and speech/language therapies.
- Bipolar disorder (or manic depression) is a chronic condition that is characterized by a fluctuation of moods from between phases of elation and hyperactivity through depressive phases of inhibition, anxiety and sadness. Symptoms may be present from early childhood, or may suddenly emerge in adolescence or adulthood. Children can experience sudden mood changes several times a day. Bipolar disorder can be managed with medication, monitoring of symptoms, counseling or therapy for the individual.
Individually tailored programs can include behavior modification, diet modification and educational interventions can help shape a child’s behaviors and improve speech and communication.
Therapies must be tailored to each child, since each disorder is distinct and presents specific needs, and because the severity of these disorders can range from mild to severe. These programs can include behavior modification, diet modification and speech therapy. The goal of treatment is to help children become more sociable, and able to be included in regular classroom environments, even though they may need to enroll into specialized programs.