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Child Neurology Consultants of Austin

Developmental Disorders

While all children learn at their own pace, and many often learn at a slower pace than others, there are some who are exceptionally challenged and may have a developmental disorder.

A developmental disorder may hinder how a child performs outside school in everyday tasks, such as dressing or feeding themselves. Developmental disorders are not the same as mental or physical disabilities, and they do not speak to a child’s intelligence.

Some of the common developmental disorders that we diagnose and treat include:

Autism

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complex developmental disability. It impairs a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others and typically appears very early on in childhood. This condition affects all children differently and to varying degrees, and these certain sets of behaviors unique to autism are assigned to a spectrum.

Behavioral and Mood Disorders

Children are often referred to a neurology specialist because of concerns about their moods and behavior. In some cases, a child may have both a neurological condition and a mood or behavioral disorder. 

Developmental Delay

A developmental delay means that your child may not be meeting appropriate developmental milestones at certain ages regarding skills associated with:

  • Cognitive thinking
  • Social and emotional interaction
  • Speech and language
  • Fine and gross motor movements
  • Everyday tasks such as dressing, feeding, and generally caring for one’s self

Causes & Symptoms

Causes contributing to a learning or developmental disorder can vary. A specific reason or explanation may never be found in more than half the children suffering from these issues. In some children, a link can be made to one of the following identifiable causes:
  • Genetics and a family history of learning or developmental disorders
  • Chemical imbalances in the brain
  • A traumatic brain injury, or TBI
  • Environmental factors
  • Complications, or illness, experienced during pregnancy or childbirth

Common signs of a learning or developmental disorder may include:

Diagnosis

To accurately diagnose a learning or developmental disorder, we must test for many things. Often times a hearing and vision test, along with a general physical exam, are performed to rule out any existing medical conditions.

More in-depth analysis will involve a combination of written and verbal tests, physical tests on skills such as balance and coordination, or highly specialized games, if evaluating a very young child. This typically takes place over several hours in our office, and may be divided up into multiple sessions if needed.

Additionally, parents and teachers will be asked to contribute detailed observations on their child’s behavior at home and at school. 

Treatment

Treatment will vary for each of these disorders and must be suited to the individual child, but in general, early intervention is considered to be the best approach. The sooner we can identify what is causing your child to be challenged academically, developmentally, and physically or socially, the sooner we can give them tools to tackle these issues.

We may suggest any one or a combination of these to help:

  • Specialized physical or occupational therapy
  • An IEP (individualized education program), or special education services, agreed upon by you and your school to aid in academic settings
  • Extra tutoring, whether at school or outside, as needed
  • Medication
  • Dietary and behavioral modifications

(Adapted from the National Center for Learning Disabilities, Understood.org, and the Autism Society.)

Resources

If you are concerned about your son or daughter’s learning or development, please contact Child Neurology Consultants of Austin to schedule an evaluation today. Our pediatric neurologists see patients in Austin (Far West) and Cedar Park. Dial (512) 494-4000 or request an appointment online.