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This is a large group of disorders describing a wide variety of developmental issues that appear very early in life. These can be specific problems with movement, communication, and learning, or more widespread impairments like those in Autism Spectrum Disorder.
What are Developmental Disorders?
Most people will readily recognize Autism Spectrum Disorder as a prominent developmental disorder. This new disorder spectrum encompasses the older diagnoses of multiple variations of Autism, Asperger’s Disorder, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. These people have a wide variety of difficulties in multiple aspects of social interaction and relationships. They also display repetitive behaviors and have unusual, focused hobbies.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is the most well known of the learning disorders. These people have problems focusing their energy on a single task and often bounce from one activity to another. Other learning issues include specific impairments in reading, writing, or mathematics. These people experience significant difficulty in a single subject and perform far below the average only in that topic.
Communication disorders covers speech impairments, such as stuttering, pronunciation difficulties, poor vocabulary, and sentence structure problems. It also includes non-verbal communication skills like problems following the natural back-and-forth flow of conversations and understanding the implied and situational aspects of dialogue.
Movement disorders comprise slow motor skill development, repetitive hand, body, or head movements, or tic disorders like Tourette’s Disorder.
This category also includes intellectual delays, where people have issues with multiple cognitive departments. They have trouble planning, organizing, addressing complex tasks, and learning. School is often a challenge as is living independently.
Who gets Developmental Disorders?
Developmental Disorders can begin anywhere during development. This can be caused by a complicated mix of reasons, often before a baby is born, but also due to infections and other causes after birth. For some disorders, the reason is unknown. People whose mothers used alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs during pregnancy also carry a greater risk of these disorders. Environmental toxins such as lead, mercury, pesticides, and certain plastics also put kids in peril. Various genetic changes can also make people more vulnerable to the effects of these dangerous chemicals.
Children who were born prematurely or were underweight at birth are at higher risk. Additionally, birth complications like being deprived of oxygen can contribute as well.