Developmental disorders are also commonly known as neurodevelopmental disorders because they are a group of conditions that results from impairments in the brain or central nervous system that often begin at birth and continue as a child grows. These disorders negatively impact cognition, communication, motor, social/emotional, learning, and memory skills. These include a range of conditions from speech-language impairments, intellectual impairments, cerebral palsy, attention deficit disorder, autism, and challenges with executive functioning (e.g. problem solving/organization).
Some of these disorders are due to genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome while others are due to toxic environmental factors such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
The prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder is on the rise as this has become a very common neurodevelopmental disorder. Current research is not conclusive as to the reason for the increase in the amount of cases of this disorder. Nevertheless, in March of 2014, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia confirmed that 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the occurrence is higher in boys (1 in 42) than girls (1 in 189). The CDC also reports that 1 in 6 children in the U.S. have a developmental disorder.
Those statistics are quite alarming! So, what is a solution? Early intervention and continued intervention from a variety of allied health professionals are necessary to optimize each child’s opportunity to learn and grow. These children and families need a committed team of caring pediatricians, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, nutritionists, etc. that will teach the tools the children need in life.
A child may have more than one disorder such as a communication disorder, learning disorder, and attention deficit disorder (ADD). In the school setting, the child’s special education teacher, speech-language pathologist, psychologist, and parents work together to evaluate and develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to address specific areas of need that are having a negative impact on the child’s academic and social success at school. In doing so, a child with a developmental disorder can gain access to achieve gains where they demonstrate challenges.