Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) are impairments of the growth and development of the brain or central nervous system. Neurodevelopmental disorders are associated with widely varying degrees of difficulty which may have significant mental, emotional, physical, and economic consequences for individuals, and in turn their families and society in general. The disorders typically manifest early in development, often before the child enters grade school, and are characterized by developmental deficits that produce impairments of personal, social, academic, or occupational functioning. The range of developmental deficits varies from very specific limitations of learning or control of executive functions to global impairments of social skills or intelligence. Neurodevelopmental disabilities reflect the person’s need for a combination and sequence of special, interdisciplinary or generic care, treatment or other services which are lifelong.
These conditions can also cause problems such as behavioral disorders, speech or language difficulties, convulsions, movement disorders and reduced capacity for independent living and economic self-sufficiency. Some of the common neurodevelopmental disabilities include: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual Disability, Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy.
Children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental disabilities (and their parents and caregivers) face many issues and challenges on a day to day basis. Based on the type of neurodevelopmental disability, the challenges range from physical and motor function difficulties to social and communication difficulties.
Most children and adolescents with NDDs struggle to do some of the things that other people may take for granted. For example, they may find it difficult to:
- find the right school or type of education.
- move from school to college or into employment.
- enjoy leisure and recreational opportunities.
- travel safely and independently.
- begin or maintain a friendship or a relationship.
- effectively communicate with others
In addition, they often face exclusion, prejudice and/or bullying.