Neurodevelopmental Disorder

What is Neurodevelopmental Disorder?

An infant’s brain grows at a fantastic rate, beginning in gestation and growing well into childhood. The infant nervous system grows equally, with messages traveling to the brain.

Neurodevelopmental disorder is described as “any of a variety of conditions beginning in childhood that involve impairments to neurological functioning affecting behavior, cognition or motor skills.” There are three types of impairments. Developmental delay means that a child falls behind other children and struggles to keep up during their life. Intellectual disability is an IQ of beneath 70, which manifests in poor social skills, learning and taking care of themselves every day. Autism spectrum disorders affect behavior, communications and social skills.

Neurodevelopmental Disorder Symptoms

Symptoms are different from person to person and also depending upon the cause of the disorder.

Most common symptoms among children are:

  • Jerky, unnatural repeated movements like flapping the hands or rapid turning around
  • Lack of curiosity
  • Slow development of motor, language and self-help skills compared to the development of other children
  • Reasoning or behavior like a small child or infant, even if the child is older
  • No eye contact with others or brief eye contact
  • Playing with a toy in an unnatural or odd way
  • Failing to point to objects to highlight them

Symptoms in older individuals manifest as:

  • Emotional outbursts
  • Seizures
  • Fibromyalgia or unexplainable pain
  • Weakness of the muscles
  • Partial or total paralysis
  • Partial or total loss of the senses
  • Poor cognitive function
  • Lesser levels of alertness
  • Inability to read or write

Other symptoms of neurodevelopmental disorders concern movements of the body. Muscles might be weak and trembling or the complete opposite, rigid.

When walking, the body might not sway back and forth like it normally does. This is where the toxins and chemicals in the causes section above enter the picture, by having these types of effects on the nerves governing muscles.

The nerves also govern things like sound and sight, and senses like smell and touch. Trauma resulting in nerve damage can cause these senses to malfunction, as well as causing the body to fail to notice heat, pain or pressure. Unexplainable headaches and/or migraines as well as back pain radiating into the legs and feet fall under this category of symptoms.

Neurodevelopmental Disorder Causes

Neurological disorders incorporate the brain, spinal column and nerve system. Causes of such disorders are congenital, acquired or idiopathic, meaning no one knows how it happened. In the congenital file are genetic factors, including chromosomal and gene abnormalities and changes in their number and structure, metabolic or chemical imbalances, and congenital malformations or growths. Also in the congenital file are pre- and during pregnancy factors like neurotoxins such as alcohol and tobacco, lead, mercury and certain food additives. Infections, malnutrition, lack of air and/or blood during pregnancy and childbirth complications are all causes for neurological disorders.

In the acquired file we find disorders in the child from sources like infections (encephalitis and meningitis are the biggest and baddest illnesses), immune disorders, brain and spinal cord injuries, tumors on the brain and spinal cord, and exposure to chemicals and toxins. Emotional disorders, seizures, memory, behavioral, vision and speech impediments could result in these disorders, and coordination and balance could be affected.

Then there are functional neurological disorders. The Mayo Clinic tells us there are no specific causes of brain dysfunction, except to say that depending on the disorder, multiple causes might exist. The definition of this disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic, is that the functions the brain controls, such as physical movement and the senses, might be involved, although no disease or other illness exists. This results in things like Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, to name a few.

Neurodevelopmental Disorder Treatment

Since the disorders have a variety of causes and manifest in a variety of ways, treatment must match up to the specific cause and manifestation. A team of doctors and medical professionals would include the primary physician, physical and speech therapists, a neurologist, a psychiatrist or other mental and emotional therapists, among others. So if a neurological disorder manifests in headaches or migraines, then the primary physician will prescribe ibuprofen or a migraine medication. Muscle relaxers or corticosteroids might be prescribed depending on the type of muscle disorder.

Should the cause of the disorder be another medical problem, then the doctor will either operate to remove a tumor, treat the alcoholism or tobacco dependency, or give antiplatelet medicines and aspirin for strokes and heart attacks. Seizures will have their own medication prescribed, while infectious diseases will be appropriately dealt with.

Physical or occupational therapy would be necessary to improve muscle function during movement and to heal any unexplainable pain. For instance, paralysis would be improved by keeping the muscles fluid instead of weak or rigid. This type therapy would also improve pain in the back radiating into the legs and feet.

Also used to treat movement disorders is Botox injections. This releases acetylcholine, which is found in the nervous system. It blocks the pain message being sent to the brain. Botox injections may be used in multiple sclerosis, headache and stroke patients.

If slurring of the speech or any other speech or mouth manifestation occurs, then a speech therapist will be of help. Most therapists of any type know how to help reduce stress in their patients. Since stress does appalling things to the body, it stands to reason that neurological manifestations would result. Stress therapy, therefore, is a must.

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is useful for teaching the neurodevelopmental disorder patient awareness. With this awareness, behavioral and emotional symptoms due to the disorder may be managed, along with the stresses arising from the symptoms. CBT has shown remarkable effects in the treatment of ADHD, anxiety and mood disorders. Mental and emotional therapy will help patients with depression and anxiety arising from their disorder.

Equally effective in treating the neurological disorder patient is rehabilitation. Offered in plain, luxury and executive, these methods of treatment better benefit the substance abuse patient and the patient with movement problems. What has made a lasting impression on rehab doctors, therapists and staff is that constant contact with staff and doctors in these surroundings have provided the best outcomes.

Drugs aren’t generally considered to be the best treatment for neurological disorders. However, certain drugs are of great help in dealing with ADHD (Atomoxetime), for instance, or seizures, convulsions and epileptic fits (Diazepam). Severe acute or chronic pain merits codeine or morphine, while anxiety can be treated with Diazepam.

Neurodevelopmental Disorder Prevention

While brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and epilepsy can’t be prevented, there are a host of neural problems that can be prevented. Simple lifestyle changes and diet modifications can and do prevent many neurological imbalances. Most people are capable of getting into shape by themselves, but some people need to see their doctors.

Who should seek medical advice:

  • Women over 50 years old
  • Smokers
  • Men over 40 years old
  • Those with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems or lung diseases
  • The overweight or under-active

The body needs exercise to remain healthy. It gets the oxygen moving from the lungs into the heart. From there, the oxygenated blood gets into the muscles and the rest of the body. This keeps the arteries leading into and out of the heart open and pumping blood. That means no heart attacks or strokes. Exercise keeps the blood pressure normal and the cholesterol on the “good” side of the page (HDL is the good and LDL is the bad cholesterol).

No one absolutely must sign up at a gym to get exercise. Walking, running, swimming, biking and anything else that gets the heart pumping and the lungs gasping for air will benefit the body. People need about 20 minutes of heart-pumping exercise at least four days a week. Lifting some free weights and doing some squats wouldn’t hurt, either. That’s called strength training. It aids the muscles in remaining viable instead of suffering a neurological weakness or rigidity. It also aids the bones in gaining bone density and avoiding contracting osteoporosis and arthritis.

In infants, make sure the child is on their tummy most of the time. There is strong evidence showing neural connections from when the baby is on their tummy. There is also much evidence that playing freely grows the connection between the brain and body. Limit their time or keep them away altogether from computers, TVs and pictures and games on cell phones, as this limits the amount of mental growth.

Keep as much toxins as possible away from the baby. This includes plastics, fire retardant baby clothing, plastic covered pillows and mattresses in the crib, toys and teething apparatus. Don’t put the baby down on furnishings that have off-gas formaldehyde, on hardwood floors glued down, or carpets of any type. Create as toxin-free home as possible for your baby so these toxins don’t soak into their skin or get inhaled.

Diet is an important part of prevention of most illnesses or disease. For example, the brain and organs are made of fat. Thus, ingesting the right types of fat is important for the health and maintenance of the brain and organs. Good fats are Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and cooking oils such as coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil. Processed foods, prepackaged foods and pre-cooked foods are the kiss of death to preventing neurodevelopmental disorders.

When people forego prepackaged foods, they cut out of their bodies the bad fats used to cook the food, the processed sugar, flour and grains. These processes bleach and otherwise process the nutrients out of the flour and sugar. The body won’t get a load of coloring and preservatives that sit in the body, because the body can’t use it. To put it simply, if it comes in a box, can or plastic container, keep on walking. If you want it, make it yourself.

Tips for a healthier diet that will prevent neurological problems:

  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables (red fruits and green and orange vegetables are great for the body).
  • Use honey or stevia as sweeteners. Lose the white sugar.
  • Fried food and fast food are killers. Avoid them. You can coat a food and “fry” it in the oven. Making your own hamburger is better for the body.
  • Buy lean meats and take the skin off the chicken. Limit red meat to once a month or so.
  • Low fat dairy products are better for the body than whole fat products.
  • Make soups and stews with different types of veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus or mushrooms in addition to your other favorite veggies.
  • Eat lots of whole grains like oatmeal and rice.
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Last Reviewed:
September 17, 2017
Last Updated:
September 17, 2017
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