Understanding the Basics of Childhood Disorder

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During your child’s developmental years, he or she is changing and growing. Some problems, or some abnormal changes can lead to some childhood disorders. It is important to notice and diagnose these conditions.

Autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a disorder of the brain that impacts a child’s communication skills and social interactions.

Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder typically present during early childhood. Children with autism spectrum disorder appear to live in their own world. They are unable to develop emotional connections with other people around them.

  • Language and communication: children with autism have weak ability to express themselves in a conversation. Their speech may be repetitive. They have weak verbal communication skills. They are unable to organize phrases and sentences. Their pronunciation may be unusual. And they may keep talking and refuse to listen when talking to others.
  • Social interaction: children with autism spectrum disorder have a lack of non-verbal communication skills such as body language or eye contact. They have problems sharing their thoughts, feelings and ideas with people. They have difficulty making friends. They are unable to understand other people’s feelings and needs.
  • Behavior: children with autism perform repetitive movements such as spinning, rocking, or head-banging. They move constantly. They refuse to accept new things. They only eat certain types of foods. They may be sensitive to touch, arrangement, light, and sound. They may focus on details but do not understand the whole picture.

Family history, problems with the brain, the child’s gender, or the parents’ ages can contribute to the development of autism. Unfortunately, autism is a life-long disorder. However, if you detect it early, you can make a significant difference.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common chronic disorders in children. Having ADHD means that the brain does not work in the way it should. It usually appears during childhood and lasts into adulthood. There are three types of ADHD, including predominantly inattentive presentation, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation, and combined presentation. These types are divided based on the strongest symptoms of the children.

Symptoms of ADHD usually start occurring before age 12. In some children, their symptoms can be noticed at age 3. Symptoms of ADHD can range from mild to severe and may be different between males and females. Children with ADHD may:

  • Talk too much
  • Have trouble organizing activities
  • Have trouble staying focus
  • Forget to do things
  • Have trouble waiting for his or her turn
  • Daydream a lot
  • Lose items a lot
  • Run around when it is not appropriate
  • Have difficulty staying with other people
  • Have difficulty following instructions
  • Have problem playing quietly

Brain injury, genetics, low birth weight, alcohol use and smoking during pregnancy, premature delivery, and exposure to environmental factors can contribute to the development of ADHD. Although treatments cannot cure ADHD, they can relieve the symptoms.

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders cause children to have inappropriate or excessive fear, feel uneasy and distressed. Children with anxiety disorders appear to experience intense fear that suddenly occurs without warning. They can also present some clinical symptoms such as excessive anxiety, behavioral disturbances and impairment. An example of anxiety disorders is obstructive compulsive disorder in which people keep having compulsive, repeated thoughts and behaviors, and they cannot stop.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness, is a disorder of the brain that causes mood swings and unusual shifts in energy and activity levels. There are four types of bipolar disorder, including bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder (cyclothymia), other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders.

People with bipolar disorder experience mood episodes: changes in activity levels, energy, and sleep patterns as well as unusual behaviors. Children having manic episode may feel very ‘high’, have a lot of energy, and they may become more active than usual. Children having depressive episode may feel very ‘down’, have little or no energy, and they may become inactive. Children having mixed features experience symptoms of both manic and depressive episodes.

Brain structures, genetics and family history may increase your the risk of having bipolar disorder in children. Bipolar disorder cannot be cured. However, certain treatments can help relieve symptoms and help children control their mood swings better.

Central auditory processing disorder (CAPD)

Central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), also referred as auditory processing disorder (APD), is a hearing problem occurring when the brain does not work as it should. CAPD can affect people at all ages but it usually starts in childhood.

Children with CAPD present obvious problems from very young age. They may have trouble responding to sounds, enjoying music, understanding speech, remembering instructions they are told, concentrating, as well as reading and spelling.

CAPD might develop after a persistent hearing problem, or damage to the brain such as head injury, brain tumor or strokes. CAPD can also run in families.

Although there is no cure for CAPD, children may feel better over time as they learn skills to deal with the condition.

Cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a condition in which the children have trouble moving and maintaining balance and posture.

Symptoms of cerebral palsy usually appear during preschool years or infancy. The children might have a lack of muscle coordination, stiff muscles, slow movements, trouble walking, delays in speech development and difficulty speaking, seizures and difficulty eating. They may also have problems with swallowing and picking up things like spoon or crayons. In some cases, they may have oral diseases, problems with hearing or vision, and mental health conditions.

Cerebral palsy can be caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the brain while it is developing.

Children with cerebral palsy need long-term care. Medications and therapies are used to help improve functional abilities, relieve pain and reduce complications.

Conduct disorder

Conduct disorder is a behavioral and emotional disorder occurring in children and teens. It is normal if children or teens have abnormal behavior. However, it can be considered as a conduct disorder if the abnormal behavior is long-lasting and disrupts the children’s and their families’ daily life.

Symptoms of conduct disorder can vary, including:

  • Aggressive behavior toward animals or people such as fighting, bullying, using weapons or forcing another into sexual activity.
  • Using alcohol or drugs
  • Breaking into home to steal
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Being irritable
  • Breaking rules

Conduct disorder can be linked to low socioeconomic status, family life, childhood abuse, genetic defects, anxiety disorders and mood disorders of close family members.

Treatment for conduct disorder can be successful if it is started early. Both the children and their families are involved. The treatment usually consists of medications and psychology. Medications are aimed to treat some symptoms, as well as other mental illnesses such as ADHD. Psychology is aimed to help children express and control their anger properly. Parents can also learn to help their children manage their behavioral problems.

Raising a child is never easy. You have to care about his or her eating, learning, as well as his or her health. Thus, understanding the basics of common childhood disorders may help you detect your child’s medical problems soon and seek proper help.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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