At Children’s Health, our nationally recognized specialists can work with your child to diagnose and manage challenges with a child’s behavior and their ability to think, process information and learn (cognition). Our care teams have broad experience helping children address issues that they may face in all areas of their life, including home, school and social life.
What are Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (NDD)?
Neurodevelopmental disabilities include a wide range of conditions that impair learning, ranging from mild to profound disorders. Examples include autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities and learning disabilities such as dyslexia. They also include conditions such as cerebral palsy, genetic syndromes and epilepsy, which may affect a child’s ability to learn.
Children with neurodevelopmental disabilities may also have delays in social skills, such as making eye contact or maintaining a conversation. They may have delays learning to speak and even crawling and walking. Children with these disorders may also have anxiety, frustration and anger, which can be overwhelming for the child and their families.
What are the different types of Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (NDD)?
These disorders include different kinds of conditions, such as:
Autism spectrum disorder
Autism spectrum disorder is a condition that affects a child in many ways, including their ability to communicate, their social skills and their learning. A child with autism may behave differently in social situations than other kids their age.
Children with intellectual disabilities experience thinking delays. This means that they may find it harder to understand and process information compared with other children their age.
Children with learning disabilities usually can perform at the same level as their classmates in most academic areas, but they will have difficulty with one area, such as reading or doing math.
What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (NDD)?
The signs and symptoms vary by the type of condition.
Children with autism may show the following signs and symptoms:
- Delays in speaking and learning to communicate
- Repetitive movements, such as flapping hands, flicking fingers, spinning
- Tendency to focus on the same toy for hours
- Delays in social skills, such as lack of eye contact
- Tendency to get overstimulated easily
Children with intellectual disabilities might:
- Have difficulty learning to speak
- Have trouble taking in and learning new information in school and other settings
- In general, have a harder time understanding things than other children their age
Children with learning disabilities typically do well in most subjects but may struggle or even get failing grades in one or two classes. Learning disabilities can affect a child’s ability to:
- Read or write
- Learn math
- Stay organized
- Pay attention
- Tell time
How are Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (NDD) diagnosed?
A part of the Neurology department, our care team focuses on measuring precisely how a child differs from others their age so that we can make a specific diagnosis. We may do genetic tests or imaging tests of the brain. We spend hours observing your child, watching how they perform different kinds of activities. And we use paper-and-pencil tests to assess a child on a wide range of abilities, including use of language and math, reasoning, short-term memory and the speed at which they process new information.
These tests include:
- ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule)
- Woodcock Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities
- WAIS (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Score)
What causes Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (NDD)?
The conditions can be caused by different factors, including:
- Genetics, which means it's inherited from a family member or caused by a new change (mutation) in a gene
- Exposure to environmental toxins, such as lead or recreational drugs, during pregnancy, infancy or childhood
How are Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (NDD) treated?
At Children’s Health℠, The Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (CADD) offers counseling and assessment by child psychiatrists, child psychologists and child neurologists.
Once we have a clear diagnosis, we can use a wide range of therapies, including:
- Physical therapy, to help treat problems with your child’s muscles and joints
- Occupational therapy, to work with your child on the skills of daily living
- Behavioral therapy, to work on emotional or mental-health challenges
- Academic coaching, to help if your child faces challenges at school
We can also review options for medications to help reduce a child’s anxiety, anger or other symptoms.