Developmental Disorders

Developmental Disorders

When a child is born with a developmental disability, sometimes called a birth defect, it means there is a chronic condition that will be a life-long challenge. Down syndrome; autism; and language, learning, vision or hearing problems are a few developmental disabilities. While these disabilities are typically present at birth, they can begin at any time up to age 22.

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    Learning disabilities: Cognitive learning disabilities vary from mild to severe. There are several different types of learning disabilities, including dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, and auditory perceptual deficit. Dyslexia occurs when patients have difficulty translating written images into meaningful language. Patients may be unable to recognize written letters or words. Some may be reading at grade levels far below average. Dysgraphia occurs when patients have difficulty writing letters within a defined space. Patients may take longer to write and have extremely poor handwriting that is almost illegible. Dyscalculia occurs when patients have difficulty doing arithmetic and understanding mathematical concepts. Patients with dyspraxia have poor motor control of large movements. Patients may have poor balance, poor posture, lack of rhythm when dancing, poor hand-eye coordination, and clumsy movement. Visual perceptual deficit occurs when patients have difficulty processing visual information. Although nothing may be wrong with their eyesight, patients may have difficulty identifying an object from a background of other objects or they may not see things in the proper order. Auditory perceptual deficit occurs when patients have difficulty processing auditory information. Although nothing may be wrong with their hearing, the brain does not interpret sounds properly. As a result, patients may have difficulty understanding and remembering things that are said. They may have difficulty distinguishing between similar sounds or hearing one sound over background noise.

    You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

    Copyright © 2012 by Natural Standard Research Collaboration. All Rights Reserved.

  • 1 Answer
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    Learning disabilities: Prompt diagnosis and early treatment of learning disabilities has been shown to improve a patient's long-term prognosis. In order to diagnose a learning disability, a specialist will administer several tests, which may involve writing, speaking, and listening. These tests are designed to measure the patient's strengths and weaknesses. In addition, the specialist will interview the patient and family members about medical history and problems that are being encountered.

    You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

    Copyright © 2012 by Natural Standard Research Collaboration. All Rights Reserved.

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    Ginkgo: Multiple clinical trials have evaluated ginkgo for a syndrome called cerebral insufficiency. This condition, more commonly diagnosed in Europe than the United States, may include poor concentration, confusion, absent-mindedness, decreased physical performance, fatigue, headache, dizziness, depression, and anxiety. It is believed that cerebral insufficiency is caused by decreased blood flow to the brain due to clogged blood vessels. Some studies report benefits of ginkgo in patients with these symptoms, but most have been poorly designed without reliable results. Better studies are needed before a conclusion can be made. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to members of the Ginkgoaceae family. If allergic to mango rind, sumac, poison ivy or oak or cashews, then allergy to ginkgo is possible. Avoid with blood-thinners (like aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin®)) due to an increased risk of bleeding. Ginkgo should be stopped two weeks before surgical procedures. Ginkgo seeds are dangerous and should be avoided. Skin irritation and itching may also occur due to ginkgo allergies. Ginkgo should not be used in supplemental doses if pregnant or breastfeeding. Music therapy: Music is used to influence physical, emotional, cognitive and social well-being and improve quality of life for healthy people as well as those who are disabled or ill. It may involve either listening to or performing music, with or without the presence of a music therapist. In people with Alzheimer's dementia and other mental disorders in older adults, music therapy has been found to reduce aggressive or agitated behavior, improve mood, and improve cooperation with daily tasks such as bathing. Music therapy may also be beneficial for dementia-associated neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as depression and aggressive behavior. Additionally, music therapy may help maintain mental performance in elderly adults undergoing surgical procedures, reduce postoperative confusion and delirium, and increase energy levels. Music therapy is generally known to be safe.

    You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

    Copyright © 2012 by Natural Standard Research Collaboration. All Rights Reserved.

  • 1 Answer
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    AAnthony Komaroff, MD, Internal Medicine, answered

    There are a few steps you can take. You might:

    • Discuss how your child is doing in school with his teacher.
    • Ask your child's pediatrician how your child is developing.
    • Consider an educational evaluation.
    • Think about having a full medical evaluation by the pediatrician.
    • Be sure your child's hearing and vision are normal.

    Many children are diagnosed with a learning disability. Remember that:

    Your child is not alone. More than 2.5 million children ages 6 to 11 have learning disabilities in the United States.

    It is not your fault. Most people with a learning disability are born with it. They have some differences in how their brain works.

    Learning disabilities tend to run in families. They affect more boys than girls.

    Learning disabilities take on many forms.

    They can change over time. Children with learning disabilities have more trouble than their classmates with one or more of these skills:

    • Reading
    • Spelling
    • Writing
    • Solving math problems
    • Listening
    • Speaking
    • Reasoning
    • Concentrating
    • Understanding
    You can create a learning plan just for your child.
    Support should be available in your community.
    Stay hopeful. Most children (and families) make lots of progress and are very successful, especially with proper support and programming.
  • 2 Answers
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    AHealthwise answered

    Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) is a developmental disorder characterized by a loss of thinking, communicating and speaking skills that occur sometime between ages 2 and 4. Normal development is seen until then.

    The cause of childhood disintegrative disorder is not known. Symptoms include poor social skills, lack of bowel and bladder control, impaired language and motor skills and difficulties developing relationships. The condition is very similar to autistic disorder (autism) in its more severe forms.

    The condition affects girls and boys in equal numbers. More research is needed to find out how many children are affected by childhood disintegrative disorder. But it is considered to occur much less frequently than autism.

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

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    AHealthwise answered
    Language delay means that a child is not able to use words or other forms of communication to share thoughts and feelings at the expected ages. Children with language delays may not be able to talk or use other methods to communicate with other people. For example, they may not to able to use gestures such as smiling, waving their hands or nodding their heads. They may also have problems understanding what other people say to them. Language delays in children may have many different causes, including hearing problems, intellectual disability caused by Down syndrome or other genetic disorders or mental health conditions. Speech therapy is usually the main treatment for language delays.

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

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    AHealthwise answered

    Developmental disabilities are a group of problems that often include difficulty with physical, thinking and reasoning (intellectual), social or psychological growth and development. Some early signs of developmental disabilities in children include:

    • Crawling, sitting up, walking and talking more slowly (or later) than children of the same age. A variety of therapies are available to help children acquire these skills.
    • Not functioning at the same level as children of the same age in social behavior or thinking processes.
    It is important that a child's thinking ability and social behavior be watched closely. Appropriate measures should be taken at school, at home or in other situations to help a child reach his or her potential.

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

  • 2 Answers
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    AMichael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    Development refers to changes over time, and in children it refers to changes in thought, behavior, and function. With children, we talk about age-appropriate neurodevelopmental milestones in broad areas of language, motor, and social-adaptive development. When an infant, toddler, or young child is not meeting some or all milestones within the window of expected age, we say that they have a developmental delay. This is really a temporary diagnosis or placeholder identifying a child as being at risk for a developmental disability.
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    AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    If something doesn't quite feel right, see if your child has any of these speech delay characteristics. The basic rules of thumb are that a child should be saying at least one word (however unclearly) by twelve months of age; at least twenty words by eighteen months; and putting two words together with a vocabulary of fifty words by twenty-four months. Another guideline is that a stranger should be able to understand 50 percent of what a two-year-old is saying, 75 percent of what a three-year-old is saying, and almost all of what a four-year-old is saying.
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    AMichael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    If you and your doctor do determine that your child has some developmental issues, you may be referred to a medical specialist (pediatric neurologist or developmental-behavioral pediatrician) or psychological specialist to determine a diagnosis and a possible cause and the need for further evaluation. Or your doctor may simply refer you directly to a therapist to work on specific problems. Early intervention using experts trained in child therapy is important; seeing the right specialist can help your child get on track. Besides your doctor and interested individuals at your local hospital, a teacher may also have good recommendations. The three major kinds of specialists include:



    • PHYSICAL THERAPISTS: They evaluate the gross motor development skills such as walking by looking at physical capacities and limitations. Therapy includes not only play, but also exercise and behavioral training, as well as equipment or devices if necessary.
    • OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS: They look at fine motor skills and upper extremity use, as well as sensory processing function. They'll also use various equipment and training methods to help teach these developmental skills.
    • SPEECH THERAPISTS: They assess language skills and work on developing speech, vocabulary, understanding the meaning of words, and using sentences. (Hearing should also be assessed whenever there are speech issues.)