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Common Developmental Disabilities In Children And How To Spot Them

Common Developmental Disabilities In Children And How To Spot Them

Developmental disorders typically begin between the age of 3 to 6. If you observe an unusual delay in your child's development, consult a health professional at the earliest.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : May 12, 2022 11:03 AM IST

Some children may have atypical physical/behavioural characteristics if they suffer from childhood disorders. Childhood disorders, also known as developmental disorders, refer to any illness or problems that cause physical, intellectual, speech, and medical disorders in children. These conditions typically begin during childhood, between the age of three to six, and usually last for the rest of a person's life.

In an exclusive interaction with TheHealthSite, Dr Vikas Satwik, Consultant - Paediatrician and Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Hebbal, Bangalore, shed light on the common developmental disabilities in children.

How to identify developmental disabilities in children

Parents know their children very well. They notice when their kids pass each developmental milestone, such as walking, speaking, and waving for the first time. Although every child is unique and develops at a different pace, these milestones can give a general idea of when a child should reach a particular milestone. If you feel that your child has gone way past the usual age of meeting a milestone, you must consult a paediatrician and share your concerns. You should talk to a doctor even if you observe some odd habits with the way your child talks, moves, acts or behaves. Doctors do developmental monitoring and look for any delays in a child's growth. It is safer to act early and get a proper diagnosis and intervention.

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4 common developmental disorders

  • Vision, hearing, and speech disabilities

The majority of visual and hearing disabilities are diagnosed early in life. Hearing disabilities also cause speech disorders, as speaking depends on the ability to hear and repeat sounds. Parents should get their children screened for hearing and speech impairment to evaluate any suspected disabilities.

  • Behavioural disorders

Psychological or behavioural disorders in children are usually left undiagnosed and untreated and cause severe damage to the child's overall development. Some behavioural disorders include anxiety disorders, depression, autism, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders.

  • Intellectual disabilities

Intellectual or cognitive disabilities in children was once referred as mental retardation. In this condition, a person's intelligence is below average, and it can limit their academic performance and adaptive behaviour.

  • Motor disabilities

This disability is when a child faces problems walking or using their arms or hands. These disabilities can further affect the speech of the child. Other disabilities found in infants and children include cerebral palsy, congenital abnormalities, muscular dystrophies, etc.

Types of developmental disorders

  • Spina bifida: This condition is a neural tube defect that causes damage to the spine and nerves. It is typically apparent since birth.
  • Intellectual disability: Intellectual disability refers to a disorder in which a person has limitations in cognitive functioning and skills. They may also find it challenging to communicate and adapt to social settings.
  • Autism: It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that makes it difficult for a person to communicate and interact in a social setting.
  • ADHD: ADHD is characterized by having problems with paying attention and disorganization, making it difficult for a person to perform daily activities.
  • Cerebral palsy: This disorder negatively impacts the movement and posture of a person by damaging the brain.
  • Down syndrome: Down syndrome is a condition that causes lifelong intellectual disability and delays in a child's growth.
  • Fragile X syndrome: Fragile X syndrome causes intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is an inherited genetic disease.

What to do if you observe an unusual delay in your child's development?

Developmental disabilities can occur in children of any race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. Similar to any other disease, children with disabilities also need proper health programmes and treatments to get better and become active members of the community. All parents need to remember that having a child with a disability does mean that they are not healthy. These children can also live a happy, healthy, and active life if provided with the right information and resources. Therefore, parents must consult a health professional at the earliest if they observe an unusual delay in their development, said Dr Satwik.