Tag Archive | "developmental disorders"

Myths and Facts About ADHD In Children


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder also known as ADHD is a condition that affects millions of children worldwide. It has been a subject of constant debate for many years and there are plenty of myths and facts that surround this topic. This article will give you a better idea of what ADHD in children is really all about.

Myth # 1: Children can outgrow ADHD.

Fact: In most cases, children do not outgrow ADHD especially when left untreated. However, studies show that early intervention (therapy, a structured environment plus medication) can help reduce the symptoms gradually. But, early intervention cannot completely eliminate the condition. A child’s hyperactivity and impulsive tendencies may be gone when he reaches his teenage years but the inattentiveness remains.

Myth # 2: There is no known cause of ADHD.

Fact: It is true that the exact cause of ADHD is still unknown, although experts suggest that ADHD is hereditary. If one or both parents of a toddler are diagnosed with this condition, there is a 70% chance that the toddler will have it too. Other causes include – exposure to lead, pesticides, smoke, alcohol and drugs (during pregnancy). Although many parents believe that eating too much sugar and junk food can cause ADHD, there is no evidence that food additives can increase higher activity levels.

Myth # 3: ADHD only affects boys.

Fact: There is no proof that boys are more likely to be affected. However, detecting ADHD is easier on boys since girls are only diagnosed with ADHD later in life, particularly once they start elementary.

Myth # 4: Toddlers with ADHD are not as smart as toddlers without the condition.

Fact: A toddler with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder develops certain parts of the brain 3 years later than those without ADHD. Hence, it is trickier to teach a child with ADHD because he has difficulty focusing long enough for the information to sink in. The child may also have trouble remembering and writing words. But, this does not mean he is lazy or less intelligent. In fact, it is believed that many famous people have ADHD.

Myth # 5: ADHD is a result of bad parenting.

Fact: ADHD is a biological disorder. Poor parenting skills are not liable for causing ADHD in children. But sadly, a lot of parents blame themselves as the reason why their children are diagnosed with such condition.

Myth # 6: ADHD medications are ineffective.

Fact: Majority of children with ADHD respond well to stimulant medication combined with forms of behavioural therapy. This medicine turns on neurotransmitters in the brain that control attention and impulsiveness.

Myth # 7: ADHD medications are dangerous.

Fact: Stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall are proven to be safe for children. It is also not true that children under ADHD medications are more at risk to take drugs as teenagers. In addition, the side effects of these medications can be reduced by doctors by lowering the dosage or switching to another brand.

The first step to understanding ADHD in children is separating fact from fiction. Use this information to serve as your guide.

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Speech Delay In Toddlers


Your toddler is 2 years old and still is not talking. Though he can say a few words, he cannot put whole sentences together unlike his playmate. Is this something you should worry about? Here is what you need to know about speech delay in toddlers.

Types of Speech Delay

There are 2 kinds of speech delay – expressive and receptive delay. Expressive speech delay is the inability to produce speech while receptive speech delay is the inability to comprehend and decode the words of others. In some instances, children may both have these types together (mixed expressive or mixed receptive speech delay), hence, they are incapable of generating any sound or speech.

Causes of Speech Delay

A lot of factors can cause speech delay in children.

  • Oral Impairment – Problems with the tongue, having a cleft palate or an extra fold beneath the tongue can restrain tongue movement to produce speech.
  • Developmental Disorders – Autism, mental retardation, PDD (pervasive developmental disorder) and auditory processing disorder (dysfunction of the central nervous system which results to a difficulty in identifying and understanding sounds) are also one of the major causes of speech delay because a toddler’s brain is still immature delaying the child’s ability to grasp, study and create speech.
  • Hearing Problems – Toddlers with hearing problems such as chronic ear infection can also suffer from speech delays. This is because they are unable to hear words and sounds to emulate them properly.

Spotting The Problem

If you are concerned about your toddler’s speech development, here are some warning signs you should watch for:

  • Does not use gestures such as waving, shaking and pointing
  • Prefers gestures over words to talk
  • Does not use consonants
  • Unable to speak at least 1 to 3 words
  • Unable to follow basic instructions (e.g. asking your toddler to hold an object or point at various body parts)
  • Does not imitate actions or words of others
  • Cannot join 2 words together
  • Has a strange tone of voice (raspy or nasal sounding)
  • Parents or caregivers have trouble understanding half of a toddler’s speech

How Parents Can Help

Read To Your Toddler

Reading is the foundation of speech and language development. Read to your baby on a daily basis. Stick to picture books to encourage your little one to focus while you name the pictures. Help him imitate the actions and point and identify the pictures.

Talk

Communicate with your toddler as much as you can. Sing, ask questions, inform him about your activities, explain to him what you are doing while cooking dinner or cleaning a room. Make sure you speak clearly and loudly and use simple words. Each time your toddler talks, reiterate and expand what he says. For instance, if he says “Mama, ball.”, say, “Yes. That is a big, red, bouncy ball.”. Then, have him repeat the words slowly.

Appreciate

Provide your toddler tons of positive reinforcement whenever he talks. Doing so boosts his confidence and will make him more motivated to try again.

Get Help

Consult with a speech-language pathologist. This specialist can give you a precise evaluation about your toddler’s condition. The doctor can also suggest speech therapy sessions to help improve his speech.

Be patient. Do not pressure your toddler to talk. Give him time to say what he wants to say. Sooner or later, your toddler will improve and start gabbing unceasingly.

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Signs and Treatment of Developmental Delays In Toddlers


Toddler development follows a timeline. Children are expected to achieve certain developmental milestones by a certain age. However, developmental delays are unavoidable. Here is a guide to help you spot the signs as well as some advice for treating them.

Cognitive Warning Signs

Cognitive developmental delay can be caused by a learning disability, contact with harmful elements (alcohol, toxin, lead, etc.) and hereditary problems. Warning signs include – inability to follow simple directions, does not point at objects, wave, imitate sounds and search for objects that are out of sight and failure to identify the function of common objects like a telephone, spoon or toothbrush.

Treatment

A specialist may prescribe medications to help treat behaviour problems. Your toddler can also undergo an educational intervention to help him develop specific cognitive skills.

Language and Speech Warning Signs

Language and speech problems are the most common type of developmental delay. This delay may be because a toddler is autistic, exposed to a multilingual family (family who speaks more than one language), has a learning disability, middle ear infection which results to loss of hearing or dysarthria (difficulty with the muscles controlling speech).

A toddler with this developmental delay cannot respond to loud noises, jabber and laugh, use sounds and identify his own name, have trouble expressing himself like waving, pointing and imitating (communicative intent), difficulty uttering several consonant sounds by 12 months and fails to say at least one word by 15 months.

Treatment

Enrolling a toddler in a special education program can help him overcome his errors in grammar, pronunciation and verbal communication. With the help of a speech pathologist, you will be given guidelines that will help you easily administer these techniques at home. Getting treatment for middle ear infection also helps treat this impediment as well as encouraging make-believe play, talking, singing and reading to your toddler every day.

Motor and Physical Warning Signs

Premature toddlers may not develop muscles at the same rate unlike full-term toddlers. Warning signs of motor and physical developmental delay are – inability to support head, reach and hold objects, roll over, sit up without assistance and walk by 18 months.

Treatment

Your toddler’s doctor can recommend certain techniques you can practice at home to encourage more physical activity. He may also need physical therapy that includes specialized exercises to improve the tone and agility of his muscles.

Social and Emotional Warning Signs

Generally, behavioural problems occur before a child starts school. This may be caused by detached and ineffective parenting, cognitive problems, autism, Asperger’s disorder (condition that affects social and communication skills) and Rett syndrome (brain disorder).

Signs that your toddler might have a delayed social and emotional development include – inability to make eye contact, perform weird mannerisms like rocking, staring blankly and repeated hand twisting, putting hands into the mouth and clapping. Aggressive behaviours such as biting, hitting, kicking and frequent tantrums as well as lack of interest in making friends and unusual attachment to a parent or severe separation anxiety are also warnings signs of behavioural delay.

Treatment

Play therapy is the best way to treat this developmental delay. Exposing your toddler to children his age by holding play dates, enrolling him in a class that will hone his interests, keeping your cool instead of reacting to your toddler’s outbursts with yelling and spanking, listening and responding also helps him deal with this delay.

Keep in mind that toddlers do not develop at the same pace. Some are early bloomers while others develop at a later time. But, it is helpful to be aware of the signs of developmental delays in children so one can take immediate action.

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Anxiety Disorders In Children – How Parents Can Help


Coping up with life’s challenges is not easy. It becomes more difficult when it involves kids. Every child worries now and then, but some are constantly agitated. Anxiety disorders in children places a major wall in their development. The following are tried and tested tips to help parents manage this attack.

Stay Calm

In order to effectively help your toddler, first, you have to be calm. Panicking will only make the problem worse. Yes, it is not easy to stay composed and most parents feel the same way. But, when you keep your cool and not let pressure rule the situation, you are able to think in a clear and sensible manner. Furthermore, you help your toddler relax instead of fueling your toddler’s apprehension by adding your own anxiety. It is essential to set a good example. Do not show fear unless absolutely necessary.

Lend Your Ears

Listening is an important aspect in managing anxiety disorders. So stop being a talker and be a listener. Begin to listen and start a two-way conversation. Children with this disorder naturally want someone who can listen to them express their emotions. Encourage your little one to tell stories and only talk once he is finished. The sense of trust your toddler gains will give him security and this will assist him filter his anxiety attacks in the long run.

Establish Routine and Structure

Provide routines with consistency. Daily habits regulate his anxiety and emphasize predictability. This gives a sense of control for both parent and toddler. See to it you allocate ample time for your toddler to take meals, read, nap, play, bathe and sleep. Always stick to a regular time to help prevent fatigue which causes stress. Quiet, relaxing activities like reading books, talking and cuddling helps relieve stress helping your toddler’s body and mind calm down. Keep disruptions to a minimum. Remember to give restrictions (e.g. areas of the house he cannot enter, cabinets he can touch, etc.). Setting limits comforts anxious children.

Provide Coping Mechanisms

Separation, sleeping, panic and obsessive compulsive anxiety disorders require coping mechanisms. You can minimize these attacks with:

Play Therapy

Play therapy is a very effective coping method to use among toddlers since they are often unable to convey their emotions out loud. It centres on letting a toddler process and express his concerns through play, which then enables the parent to help the toddler overcome the disorder.

Free play allows your young one to discover the world with his own pace. Encourage your child to play outside. The exposure he gets from playing hide and seek, tag, soccer and other active outdoor games helps him realize that life is safe beyond the four corners of the house. Gradually, this change will help him become less fearful and more easy-going.

If he is scared of cats, practice interaction with stuffed animals, watch animal cartoon shows or visit a pet store. Divert his attention by giving him activities that will keep him busy like drawing, coloring, cleaning his room or helping you cook meals.

Exercise

Run, brisk walk or do jumping jacks together to keep your toddler’s mind and body busy. Teach him breathing exercises to soothe his nerves. Physical activities help your toddler take his mind off his concerns and focus on something else.

Writing

Give your toddler a notebook and a pen so the next time he feels restless he can just write off his thoughts in his journal. 10 to 20 minutes of writing will help your toddler’s mind calm down. A lot of individuals find comfort in writing since it can put some form and shape to their confused emotions.

Show Empathy

Toddlers with anxiety disorders are not satisfied with just knowing they are loved. They need to hear it to feel safe. Do not just tell him to go to his room and sleep. Provide oral affirmations of love and security. Dance, sing, laugh, embrace, kiss, hold, rock and chat. Your uneasy child needs that extra comfort to help him relax and lighten the tension in his body. Acknowledge your toddler’s feelings. Talk about it openly. Ask what bothers his mind, why he feels that way and what he wants to do about it. After which, reward your toddler for trying to face his fears. Recognizing them already takes a lot of effort for him so be sure to commend his tiniest efforts. By doing so, you inspire your toddler to continue doing good.

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Supporting Children With Autism


Toddlers with autism are intellectually, verbally and socially challenged. These delays causes them to be extra sensitive. It takes a lot of patience, persistence and wisdom to help them. But, with professional help, a whole lot of love and encouragement, children with autism can learn, grow and flourish like normal individuals.

How to Help An Autistic Child

Be Informed

Knowledge is power. The first step in supporting your toddler is by being prepared. Learn about autism. The more information you know about it, the better equipped you will be in creating sensible decisions for your precious one. Ask questions. Inform yourself about the different treatment alternatives. Seek advice from the specialists.

Second, be an expert on your toddler. Determine what sets off your toddler’s disturbing behaviors and what elicits positive reactions. Know the things that make your toddler happy, peaceful, stressed and uneasy. The more you know about the things that ruffles his feathers the better you can act in averting and resolving these problems.

Supply Structure and Safety

Naturally, a toddler who has autism have trouble adjusting and adapting. As a parent, it is your duty to provide a solid base. Be consistent. Building stability in your toddlers environment is the best method to strengthen learning. For example, figure out how your toddler’s therapist deals with your child and maintain that approach at home. Or, why not set your toddler’s therapy in various places. This will likely persuade your little one to convey what he has learned from one situation to another.

Uniformity in his daily routine is also essential. Create a healthy schedule for your toddler and allot adequate time for meals, playschool, naps, therapy, free play and bedtime. Avoid distractions.

It is also beneficial to set up a small space in your home solely for your toddler. This private space will serve as his comfort zone. This should help him unwind wherein he gets to take a break from his therapy and just be free doing the things he loves. Keep the ambiance light and cheery so see to it his space is filled with lots of papers, crayons, art materials, educational toys and music.

Provide Early Intervention

This intercession creates an established approach wherein behavioral testing is applied. With the help of therapists, you can successfully improve your toddler’s condition by coaching him new constructive behaviors and altering negative ones through repetition and practice in a playful manner. A fun free-play makes more sense to toddlers. Mimic his therapist’s activities. For example, during his play time, let him play with toy blocks. Toss each one into a pail while saying the word “block” repetitively; inviting your toddler to copy you.

Tackle Sensory Issues

An autistic toddler have sensory issues which hinders learning. Therefore, you should learn how to adjust. Instead of pressuring your little one to learn this and that, it would be best if you look for nonverbal ways to communicate. Observe his facial expressions and body language. By doing so, you will recognize his discomfort once he wrinkles his nose or kicks his feet. A hand gesture is an easy way for him to tell you his requests.

Give Praise

Providing positive reinforcement is a powerful way to encourage children with autism. Be observant. Always commend your toddler for his effort, a good deed or for learning a new skill. Specify what behaviour he is being praised for. Reward him with lots of hugs and kisses, his favorite sweets or a new toy.

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Helping A Child With Pervasive Developmental Disorder


Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) is a finding usually given to 3-year old toddlers. Children who have PDD are often puzzled with their thoughts and are disintegrated with their perception of the world. PDD is a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of many fundamental skills, specifically the ability to communicate and interact with others and the use of imagination. It consists of 5 disorders namely:

  • Asperger’s Syndrome – difficulty with social interaction and communication but with above average intelligence
  • Autism – deficient in social, communication and thinking skills, interests are limited
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) – a rare circumstance that occurs from age 2 to 10 wherein a toddler can lose many of the skills he has grown
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) – toddlers who have communication and play deficiency but are too social to be believed autistic
  • Rett’s Syndrome – a very unusual disorder with signs related to PDD but with problems of physical abnormalities and poor dexterity skills

How to Help A Toddler With PDD

There is no known treatment for pervasive developmental disorder. But, the most effective way to address this condition is by having a treatment program that tackles a toddler’s needs at home and in school. With a PDD program, parents, teachers, doctors and therapists should work jointly to help improve skills and decrease actions that can hinder toddler development.

1.) Special Education

A toddler with PDD highly benefits from special education. To help balance and somehow modify a child’s deficiencies, a focused classroom (either a one-on-one or small sized class setting) is essential. Varied learning systems are given so in this way, lessons and activities are set in a direct manner. Thus, adequate attention is given to the different scholastic strengths and weaknesses of the child.

2.) Open Communication Lines

Having a close parent-child relationship is really significant in this situation. To help a toddler with his journey, constant talking is essential. Facing the problem is better than running from it. When both parent and child acknowledge the special condition, open communication take place, and with this, parents can openly discuss the situation and the toddler can better comprehend. Moreover, the toddler will be more willing to accept and adjust. He becomes determined to set and reach realistic goals for himself to help improve his condition.

3.) Classes or Workshops

A toddler with PDD only lacks people skills. To help him enhance it, find a group where he can be a part of. If he is a good swimmer, enroll him in a swimming class. This new setting allows the toddler’s special skills to shine in a way they do not in a classroom. Plus, it is the perfect opportunity for him to meet other children who share his interests. As a result, he gets to focus on his strengths, divert his condition into something productive and gain friends who accept him, imperfections and all.

4.) Therapy

Cognitive, language and physical treatments are essential. These are designed to increase the toddler’s functional abilities. With a professional counselor, he gets to do certain exercises that are directed in enhancing undeveloped skills. Activities like building things from toy blocks improve his movements giving him dexterity. While audio and visual drills modify his level of speech and thinking.

5.) Support Groups

Involving in a PDD support group is an excellent way to meet other families facing the same challenges. Parents can exchange information, gather advice and lean on one another for emotional support. By being with others in the same boat and sharing experiences, you not only find personal comfort but a lot of ideas that can help you assist your toddler.

6.) Do Fun Activities Together

A toddler dealing with PDD is still a child. For toddlers and parents, there must be more to life than therapy. Schedule playtime when your toddler is most conscious and alert. Look for ways to have fun together by assessing the things that make your toddler laugh, smile and self-assured. Without a doubt, he will enjoy this break. There are a lot of positive outcomes that result from your toddler’s happiness of spending a relaxing time with you.  Play is imperative in a toddler’s learning and should not feel like work.

7.) Create A Safe Abode

Have a private space in your home where your toddler can rest and feel protected. Organize his space in ways your toddler can understand. Child-proof you home and create visual signs (e.g. colored tapes for off-limit areas, pictures for indexing objects, etc.).

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