When we think of disorders or mental problems, it is easy for problems such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or phobias to come to our mind.
Neurodevelopmental disorders or developmental disorders are the set of disorders and mental difficulties that have their origin in a non-neurotypical development of the brain or in the presence of alterations or injuries in its maturation.
They have their origin in early childhood or during the development process, and it is usually possible to detect the first symptoms early.
The alterations caused by these disorders generate difficulties of varying intensity in the process of adaptation and social participation and/or in the performance of basic activities for survival. The activity of the subject is limited or altered with respect to what would be usual in other subjects with the same age and conditions.
Types of neurodevelopmental disorders
The neurodevelopmental disorders label encompasses a large number of disorders that share the aforementioned characteristics, although they present remarkable differences among them depending on the aspects that are affected.
Below we will look at the main groups of neurodevelopmental disorders covered by the latest version of one of the most important reference manuals. To facilitate understanding, disorders caused by the consumption of medical substances or diseases are not included.
1. Intellectual disabilities
Intellectual disability is considered one of the neurodevelopmental disorders, due to deficiencies or difficulties of intellectual functions and adaptive behaviour in its conceptual, practical or social, which have as a consequence a possible limitation of the functioning of the subject in any one or more vital areas unless they have specific support.
Also included in this group is the global developmental delay, which is diagnosed when it is not possible to assess the severity of the disorder in children under five, despite the fact that it is observed that it does not meet the expected developmental milestones. This diagnosis is provisional.
2. Communication disorders
The communication disorders are those neurodevelopmental disorders in which the subject is not able to communicate properly or learn to do so despite having sufficient mental abilities to do so.
Within this group of disorders, we find the language disorder, the phonological disorder, the pragmatic communication disorder or the stuttering or speech fluency disorder of childhood onset.
3. Autism spectrum disorder
The spectrum disorder of autism is characterized by the presence of difficulties in interpersonal communication and interaction, repetitive and restrictive behaviour patterns and interests. Those who suffer have difficulties in understanding the rules governing social interactions and to capture and express feelings, often have a literal oral language and be complex to capture subtleties and figurative uses of this, present preference and need routine and monotony and accept changes badly.
Although different disorders were previously distinguished within this spectrum, such as Kanner and Asperger type autism, it is currently considered a single disorder that encompasses them (although with specifiers).
4. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Another of the most well-known neurodevelopmental disorders, ADHD is a disorder characterized by the presence of typical symptoms of intent (such as difficulty maintaining attention, commission of errors due to lack of attention, high distraction, non-completion of tasks, loss and forgetfulness of objects and activities , mental absence …) and / or hyperactivity (excessive speech, motor restlessness, has difficulties to remain seated or to wait for turns, interrupts other people’s activities).
Intention symptoms may predominate, hyperactivity symptoms may occur or a mixed presentation may occur.
It is also possible to find cases in which there are no cases of hyperactivity but only of intention, which is now known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
5. Specific learning disorder
A specific learning disorder is understood as that in which the subject manifests difficulties in the acquisition and use of academic skills, such as reading, writing and mathematics.
The individual has difficulties when it comes to reading, interpreting and using language (he has problems for example with grammar and spelling) and/or mathematical concepts. These difficulties are beyond what is expected for someone of the age and intellectual capacity of the subjects, interfering in their academic activity.
6. Motor disorders
Another major group of neurodevelopmental disorders are the motor, in which there are difficulties in aspects related to movement such as coordination or involuntary movements occur.
Within these disorders, we find the disorder of the development of coordination, stereotyped movements and tic disorders. In this last group, we find the Tourette disorder, along with persistent motor or vocal tics and transient tics.
This label is used in those disorders linked to neurodevelopmental disorders that cause an affectation of the subject in some or some vital areas, but that do not meet the diagnostic criteria of any of the previous groups of disorders.
For example, those disorders linked to substance use by the mother during pregnancy, or in those cases in which there is not enough information available to classify the disorder in question.