Neurological Diagnosis and Treatment for Learning Disabilities

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Clinical Reference Guide:
What We Diagnose, How We Diagnose and Treatment Options

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Adults
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children
Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder
Digital EEG and Evoked Potentials Assessment (DEEP)
Cognitive Guidance for High Achievers
Developmental Coordination Disorder
Learning Disabilities
Speech and Language Disorders
Physical Therapy

Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder

What is a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) and autism?
Children that have difficulty with social skills, language, and behavior are said to have a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). Most children with problems in development have only one or two areas of disability. Children with PDD, however, have problems in many areas, such as social interaction, communication, and imagination. Thus, the term "pervasive" was chosen to describe this disorder. The name of this disorder may soon be changed to Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Autistic disorder, or autism, is a type of PDD. Specific criteria must be met for a child to be diagnosed with autistic disorder. Even though all children with autism meet all the criteria, they may have different behaviors and abilities because of their age and how severe their symptoms are.

Children who have problems in areas of development like those listed above, but who do not have autistic disorder are diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Not Otherwise Specified). Children with PDD-NOS may be later diagnosed with autistic disorder if they develop more symptoms.

What are the symptoms?
Children with autistic disorder may appear normal for the first few months of life. Your child may then become more and more unresponsive to you or other stimuli. Delay in language development is the most common reason children who are later diagnosed with autism are brought to the doctor. Your child, depending on his or her age, may have a number of symptoms in the following areas:

1.   Social skills

  • Resists being cuddled; may scream to be put down when held.
  • Remains withdrawn from parents and others and fails to form relationships.
  • Avoids eye-to-eye contact.
  • Prefers to play alone.
  • Is indifferent to the feelings of others and to social norms

2.   Use of language and imagination

  • Speaks later than other children of the same age.
  • Cannot understand or copy speech or gestures.
  • Rate, pitch, tone, or rhythm of speech is abnormal.
  • Unable to start a conversation or keep one going.
  • Unable to engage in fantasy or imaginative play such as role playing and storytelling.
  • Responds inappropriately to sounds.
  • Acquired speech is immature and unimaginative. He or she makes up words and echoes what someone says.

3.   Behavior, activities, and interests

  • Develops habit behavior and compulsive routines.
  • Greatly resists even the slightest change; becomes enraged if his or her obsessive routine is altered or activities are disrupted.
  • Hyperactive.
  • Obsessed with one topic or idea; may become attached to unusual objects.
  • Walks on tiptoe and/or flicks or twiddles fingers for long periods.
  • Bangs head, rocks, or stares.
  • Has sudden screaming spells.
  • Injures himself on purpose.
  • Has trouble learning manual tasks.

No child with autism will have all of the above symptoms nor is this a list of all the symptoms.


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