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Neurodevelopment

Conditions

Up to 95% of people with one condition, have at least one other one.  Very few people have just a single condition.

Below are the most prominent conditions that are associated with neurodevelopment but there are others. 

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) affects one in twenty Australians, that's 1.2 million people, but is frequently misunderstood and under-diagnosed.

Key features are inattention, distractibility, hyperactivity and impulsivity. It also exists alongside other neurodevelopment conditions and mental health conditions. Untreated ADHD can cause lifetime impairment, however there are effective ways of managing ADHD.

 

Up to 58% of children with ASD also have an ADHD diagnosis. Having both diagnoses generates additional challenges and it is therefore vital to assess for both conditions.

 

You can help your child manage their ADHD symptoms by using positive parenting strategies, along with a range of home and classroom strategies. These include sticking to a routine, building social skills and planning your child’s learning environment. Sometimes counselling for your child or the family is also needed. There are also medications that can be used to manage ADHD.

 

There are numerous clinical trials and other research underway – see our clinical trials page.

For more information,

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ADHD
 
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AUTISM
Autism spectrum disorder, commonly known as ASD, affects how people communicate and interact with others. It affects how they make sense of the world.

Autism is a developmental condition that is typically life-long. People with ASD experience difficulties with communication, social interaction and restricted/repetitive interests and behaviours. These are often accompanied by sensory issues, such an oversensitivity or undersensitivity to sounds, smells or touch. All of these difficulties may lead to behavioural challenges in some individuals.

 

These difficulties are commonly grouped into two main areas.

Social communication and interaction
  • Difficulties with social-emotional reciprocity e.g. being unable to maintain normal back-and-forth conversations, having little or no interest in sharing interests and emotions (pointing or showing), displaying little or no interest in social interactions.
     

  • Difficulties with non-verbal communication, e.g. abnormal eye contact, difficulties understanding and using gestures (such as nodding), body language and facial expressions.
     

  • Difficulties in developing and maintaining relationships appropriate to age and development e.g. difficulties with imaginative play and making friends.

Restricted and repetitive behaviours
  • Stereotyped or repetitive speech, movements or use of objects, such as lining up toys, flapping hands, toe walking or echolalia (repeating words or phrases).
     

  • Inflexible adherence to routines, patterns or behaviour (e.g. eating the same foods, travelling the same way to school etc.) and becoming distressed at changes.
     

  • Sensory hyper or hypo-reactivity (e.g. to sounds, pain and textures) as described above.
     

  • Restricted or fixated interests e.g. only playing with certain toys or discussing certain topics.

For more information, visit our community partners

 
Cerebral palsy is a physical disability that affects movement and posture.

It’s the result of a combination of events either before, during or after birth that can lead to an injury in a baby’s developing brain.

 

There is no single cause of cerebral palsy. For most babies born with cerebral palsy, the cause remains unknown. Researchers now know that only a very small percentage of cases of cerebral palsy are due to complications at birth (e.g. asphyxia or lack of oxygen). Today, it is accepted that cerebral palsy usually arises from a series of causal pathways, i.e. a sequence of events that when combined can cause or accelerate injury to the developing brain.

In 13 out of 14 cases of cerebral palsy in Australia, the brain injury leading to cerebral palsy occurs either in the uterus (while the mother is pregnant) or before 1 month of age.

 

Although cerebral palsy is a lifelong disability, there are many interventions that can help reduce its impact on the body and the individual’s quality of life. An intervention is a service that aims to improve the condition of cerebral palsy and the day-to-day experience of the person living with it.

For more information, visit our community partners

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CEREBRAL
PALSY
 
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TOURETTES
Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder, which most often begins between the ages of 2 and 21, and lasts throughout life. TS is NOT degenerative and people with TS can expect to live a normal life span.

TS is characterised by rapid, repetitive and involuntary muscle movements and vocalisations called "tics", and often involves behavioural difficulties. The term "involuntary", used to describe tics, is a source of confusion since it is known that most people with TS do have some control over their symptoms. What is often not recognised is that the control which can be exerted, from seconds to hours at a time, only delays more severe outbursts of symptoms.

Tics are experienced as a build up of tension, are irresistible and eventually must be performed. Typically tics increase as a result of tension or stress and decrease with relaxation or concentration on an absorbing task. TS symptoms have long been misconstrued as a sign of behavioural abnormality or "nervous habits", which they are not.

 

There’s no cure yet, but medication can be effective to control some of the symptoms in some cases. Education of the individual, family and friends on the disorder and learning management techniques can help reduce symptoms.

For more information, visit our community partners

 
When young children are slower to develop physical, emotional, social and communication skills than expected, it’s called developmental delay or delayed learning.

Delay can show up in the way children move, communicate, think and learn, or behave with others. When more than one of these areas is affected, it might be called Global Developmental Delay. 

The experience of children who experience delayed learning varies widely from mild to moderate, to severe or profound. It might be short term, or it might be the first sign of a long-term problem.

It can be difficult to diagnose a mild learning problem as the individual will often mix well with others and will be able to cope with most everyday tasks. However, they may need support in other areas of their life.

People with a severe delayed learning or profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD), will need more care and support with areas such as mobility, personal care and communication.

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DELAYED LEARNING OR DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY
 
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DOWN SYNDROME AND INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY
An intellectual disability is characterised by someone having an IQ below 70 (the median IQ is 100), as well as significant difficulty with daily living such as self-care, safety, communication, and socialisation.

People with an intellectual disability may process information more slowly, find communication and daily living skills hard, and also have difficulty with abstract concepts such as money and time.

About 3% of Australians have an intellectual disability, making it the most common primary disability. An intellectual disability may be caused by a genetic condition, problems during pregnancy and birth, health problems or illness, and environmental factors.

 

Down's syndrome is the commonest identifiable cause of intellectual disability, accounting for around 15-20% of the intellectually disabled population. IT occurs at conception and people from all different backgrounds and ages have children with Down syndrome. 

 

Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells. In each cell there are tiny structures called chromosomes. The DNA in our chromosomes determines how we develop. Most people have 23 pairs of chromosomes in each of their cells (46 in total). People with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes in their cells. They have an extra chromosome 21, which is why Down syndrome is also sometimes known as trisomy 21.

People with Down syndrome may have:

  • areas of strengths and other areas where they need more support, just like everyone else in the community

  • some level of intellectual disability

  • some characteristic physical features

  • increased risk of some health conditions (many of which are treatable)

  • some developmental delays.

For more information, visit our community partners

 
Epilepsy is a disorder of brain function that takes the form of recurring convulsive or non-convulsive seizures.

Epilepsy is not just one condition; rather it is a diverse family of disorders comprising many seizure types.

10% of the population are at risk of experiencing a seizure during their lifetime, while 3-4% will go on to be diagnosed with epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a common condition in our community and can develop at any age, regardless of gender or ethnic group. Research suggests that 3-4% of the Australian population will develop epilepsy at some stage in their lives.

 

Epilepsy was once considered a disorder of the young as it was believed that most people experienced their first seizure before the age of 20. However, the over 55 years age group is now being recognised as being the most vulnerable group. This rapidly growing demographic group is subject to the kinds of cerebrovascular, respiratory and cardiac events that can lead to epileptic seizures.

 

Research shows epilepsy is a frequent feature of neurodevelopmental disorders. For example 28–70% of people with epilepsy also have ADHD and it’s particularly common among children with epilepsy.

For more information,

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EPILEPSY
 

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