5 prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders in children

Neurodevelopmental disorders are indeed prevalent among children. Here are some common types identified by experts.

5 Common Neurodevelopmental Disorders In Children
5 Common Neurodevelopmental Disorders In Children

The majority of brain cells are formed before birth, yet some children encounter difficulties in physical and mental development, or both. Common neurodevelopmental disorders include autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Symptoms of these conditions often manifest as learning or speech difficulties. Dr. Puja Kapoor, Paediatric Neurologist & Co-founder of Continua kids, provided insights into these common neurodevelopmental disorders in an interview with the Onlymyhealth editorial team.

Typical neurodevelopmental conditions

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are the two prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders detected in children.

1. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by deficits in social and communication skills, alongside stereotypical behaviors and sensory sensitivities. Its prevalence has been steadily increasing over recent decades. While the precise cause remains under investigation, factors such as excessive screen time and limited social interaction during developmental stages may contribute to symptom severity.

Sensory concerns in ASD manifest in various ways, including visual, vestibular, auditory, and tactile sensitivities. Visual manifestations may include sideways glances, fascination with fingers, and interest in shadows. Vestibular sensitivities may lead to repetitive movements or hopping on objects, while auditory sensitivities may result in fear of specific sounds like those from household appliances. Tactile sensitivities may manifest as toe walking or aversion to certain textures. Addressing these sensory concerns often involves sensory therapy or specific interventions tailored to the individual’s needs.

Diagnosing ASD typically relies on observing a constellation of symptoms rather than on blood tests or imaging studies. While there can be secondary causes such as seizures or sensory impairments, addressing these underlying issues can sometimes alleviate autistic features. Currently, there is no medication specifically targeting core ASD symptoms like lack of eye contact or response to name calling, despite normal hearing. Instead, interventions such as occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, speech therapy, and special education are utilized to manage and improve symptoms.

2. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

This neurodevelopmental disorder can manifest with symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, or a combination of both. A child with ADHD may display aggression, impatience, high levels of impulsivity, constant movement, and difficulty remaining seated or focused for extended periods. They may quickly become bored, struggle to concentrate during conversations, and constantly seek out new stimuli. Despite these challenges, the child may possess normal or above-average intelligence.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

In the inattention type of ADHD, the child struggles to maintain focus on tasks assigned to them. During class, they may be easily distracted by minor details rather than paying attention to the teacher’s instructions. The teacher often has to repeatedly call their name to regain their attention, which may only last for a short time before wandering again.

Despite having normal intelligence, the child’s academic performance may suffer due to their inability to sustain attention. Parents may misunderstand the underlying issue and attribute the child’s struggles to carelessness or “silly” mistakes. Without proper intervention, the child may face disciplinary problems later in life as they struggle to comprehend the reasons behind frequent reprimands from teachers or parents.

3. Cerebral palsy 

Cerebral palsy is a condition affecting a child’s motor skills, often resulting from brain damage occurring before or during childbirth or in early childhood. It ranks among the most prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders in children and encompasses various types based on neurological indicators. Symptoms include difficulties with coordination and fundamental movements like walking, standing, bladder control, eating, and speaking.

The condition typically does not worsen with age, and its exact cause remains undefined. However, it commonly arises during pregnancy when the fetus fails to develop fully or sustains trauma leading to brain damage. While no specific cure exists, certain therapies can help manage the symptoms associated with cerebral palsy.

4. Dyslexia 


Dyslexia is a prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder in children, characterized by difficulties in spelling, writing, reading, and accurately comprehending text. Despite its common occurrence, the exact cause of this disorder remains unidentified. Treatment for dyslexia involves implementing specific teaching methods from a variety of professionals and experts who specialize in supporting children with this condition. With early diagnosis, children affected by dyslexia can often achieve reading levels surpassing the average.

5. Dyspraxia 

Dyspraxia, although less recognized, is a neurodevelopmental condition primarily observed in children, characterized by difficulties in coordinating physical movements. Individuals with this disability often struggle to maintain posture and balance. The cause of dyspraxia remains unclear, but it is believed to stem from inherent differences in the nerve cells responsible for muscle control from birth.

Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, such as process-oriented occupational therapy, can significantly improve the condition. Children with dyspraxia require thorough evaluation and guidance from occupational therapists. Additionally, certain medications may aid in enhancing concentration and attention. Regular physical exercise is essential to channelize excessive energy.

Addressing these developmental disorders early in life can make a substantial difference for children, potentially enabling them to lead fulfilling lives.