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Treating Developmental Disorders

Dealing with a developmental disorder in your child can be a heart-wrenching and frustrating experience. One moment, you may be able to deal with the issues you’re facing and the next, you feel like pounding your head against a wall from a perceived lack of options. Making matters worse, you know that your child isn’t happy either. If you aren’t certain if your child has a developmental disorder, the frustration is amplified from a sheer lack of information.

The truth is that developmental disorders can be managed and treated. Understanding the signs, symptoms and options available to your child is the first step to finding the right treatment program for you and your family.

Conduct and Behavior Disorders

Does your child seem to have a “problem with authority”? There may be more at issue than a simple lack of respect.

Conduct disorder is a condition that is marked by extreme behaviors, such as destroying property, ignoring rules (like curfews or other restrictions on behavior), drug use, abuse and addiction, sexual activity at an early age, tantrums or fighting, bullying and a hostile attitude toward adults or anyone in authority. Another condition that may be present is known as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). This is very similar to conduct disorder, but amplified to include behaviors that deliberately annoy others. Kids in this kind of a cycle can develop behavioral habits that will only serve to cause problems in their adult lives, so getting help as quickly as possible is important. While it’s easy to think that you are the only one facing such issues from your child, know that you are not alone and help is available. Don’t be afraid to talk with your primary care physician about any acute issues and then find a treatment program that can offer individual and family classes or therapies.

Mental Function Disorders

Learning disabilities can come in many shapes and sizes, so to speak. Some are mild and treatable with specialized therapies. Others are more severe and will require life-long support. Ranging from mental retardation to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), these disorders can make everyday life a challenge if you don’t have the right kind of support.

Autism is one form of developmental disorder that is more common than you might think.

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It has been estimated that six children out of 1,000 live births will suffer some form of autism, ranging from mild (pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified) to severe (autistic disorder). In the most severe cases, children may never learn to talk and will need supervised, expert care for their entire lives. In milder cases, the condition is marked by a lack of eye contact when they speak, hindered speech and delayed motor skills. Many times, the child will engage in repetitive motions, such as rocking or spinning. Most significantly, a child with autism has trouble picking up on social cues that the rest of us take for granted. Body language and tone of voice are crucial to communication, yet these aspects of everyday life have no impact on an autistic child. Asperger’s disorder is another mild form of autism.

The treatment for autism is based upon the individual symptoms. If a child is depressed or anxious, certain medication may be used to alleviate the issues; however, there is no cure for autism. Because of this, each treatment program will be unique to the child and their parents.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is caused by a lack of chemicals in the part of the brain that organizes thoughts, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. It was not caused by your parenting skills or inexperience. It was not caused by letting your child watch too much television or play video games. It was not caused by too much sugar or sugar substitutes. It is not an allergy to food or any other substance. Relieve yourself of any guilt in relation to the cause of the condition.

There are a few things that you can do to alleviate some of the problems your child faces when suffering from ADHD. For instance, rewarding good decision-making, creating a set schedule for activities as simple as waking, homework, television and chores. Establish firm consequences for misbehavior and focus on the effort applied to projects versus the accomplishments achieved. This can help your child build the confidence he or she needs to be a successful adult. In addition, some children respond well to formal therapy.

Learning Disabilities

A learning disability can manifest in several forms. Does your child achieve excellent grades in reading and comprehension as well as other subjects, but performs significantly under expectations in math? Mathematics disorder may be the cause.

Reading disorder is also known as dyslexia. It can occur by itself or in conjunction with mathematics disorder and writing disorder because all of these forms of communication rely on symbols to get the message across. Dyslexia is not a vision problem, so it can’t be corrected with glasses or surgery, but there are treatments available. While it is characterized at times by confusing a “b” for a “d,” the problem is actually much deeper than that. Reading disorder can make it difficult for your child to comprehend what a sentence means, even once he or she is able to decipher what the letters are.

Symptoms of Reading Disorder

Reading disorder, or dyslexia, can be identified via a thorough examination by your doctor, but how do you know whether the exam is needed? Watch for these signs in your child’s developmental process:

  • Your child has trouble with rhyming words.
  • Your child has trouble following the idea of simple sentences.
  • Your child has difficulty learning “sight words.”
  • Other members of the immediate or close family suffer from a reading disorder.

Another learning developmental disorder is the disorder of written expression. This disorder has not been studied as much as other disorders; therefore, not much is known about the condition. Experts estimate that as many children suffer from this condition as any other learning disability. It is marked by poor handwriting in relation to motor skills and a significant lack of aptitude for grammar, punctuation and spelling. While the age of electronic communication and children learning keyboarding skills early can mask the lack of handwriting ability, it is important to remember that conditions such as those mentioned here can have an effect on a child’s overall self-esteem and their ability to socialize in certain settings. Taking care of the issue early with treatment and encouragement can prevent more serious problems down the road.

Please Don’t Leave Me: Separation Anxiety

Every normally developing child will experience some form of separation anxiety as they grow and mature from infancy into the toddler stage.

Children come to rely on their parents and familiar caregivers, and when something happens to change the norm, the experience can be frightening. When the fear of the unknown doesn’t go away by the age of two (or thereabouts), there might be a disorder developing. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, childhood separation anxiety can lead to adult anxiety and panic disorders, so it is best to address the problem as early as possible. A symptom to look is a refusal to go to school, stomachaches or other “illnesses” that go away once permission to remain home has been established, but reappear the next day before school. Another symptom is a penchant for following mom or dad around the house throughout the day. Other children may have a fear of the dark or be unwilling to remain alone in a room.

The sooner you can arrange a treatment plan for your child, the more likely he or she will overcome their anxiety and experience a happier, healthier adult life.

Severe Disorders Can Require Lifelong Care

Rett syndrome is a condition that affects mostly girls, although some boys have been born with the disorder as well. When a child has Rett syndrome, she will develop normally up until approximately the age of three years. After that, many of the milestones her parents noticed will disappear. She may lose the ability to walk normally, or at all. She may begin to wring her hands excessively, to the point that she will no longer grab or point like a normal child. She may stop talking. She may no longer make eye contact.

The current understanding of Rett syndrome is that the condition is genetic. They don’t know precisely why the child will develop normally and then reverse, but they have identified a gene that is common in as many as 95 percent of the case studies.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Rett syndrome and the individuals generally require full-time, lifelong assistance.

Causes in Children

Some developmental disorders are inherited through genetics. Others are the result of a traumatic brain injury that occurs during or shortly after birth. Still others are completely preventable through careful planning and understanding the effects our behaviors have on our children. For instance, drug abuse during pregnancy can also cause developmental disorders and delays in our children; this is also true of nicotine use. Drug use can also cause extremely premature births, which contribute to developmental delays. The social environment in which we raise our children and the everyday stress they may be exposed to can also have an adverse effect.

Regardless of the reasons for a child’s developmental issues, learning as much as you can and spending the time needed to help your child receive treatment in a luxury treatment center can go a long way to providing a bright future for them.

Developmental Stages for Motor Skills

In order to judge whether your child is progressing normally, you need to understand some of the milestones she should be achieving throughout her infancy. Here are a few things to look for:

  • 1 month: She should be able to bring her hands forward so she can see them and “almost” put them in her mouth.
  • 3 months: She should push down with her legs when her feet are placed on a firm surface, like the floor or a table. Those hands should be in her mouth by now! Give her a rattle and watch her shake.
  • 6 months: She is reaching for and grasping objects now, playing with her toes and starting to sit up without help.
  • 12 months: She is pulling herself up now, and all those months of waiting for her walk are going to seem like a vacation. She can stand for a moment or two without help, and she is crawling like a pro on her hands and knees.

If you’d like more information on mental health treatment or other aspects of developmental disorders, contact us today. We are here to help.