Neurodevelopmental psychiatry encompasses Learning difficulties, Autistic Spectrum Conditions and ADHD. Neurodevelopmental Psychiatry deals with these often lifelong impairments and helps the people affected cope with their disabilities and the disabilities of their loved ones.
Learning difficulties is an umbrella term to describe many difficulties including: Dyscalculia (where a person struggles with numbers and their patterns); Dysgraphia (where a person struggles with handwriting); Dyslexia (problems with reading and spelling); Dyspraxia (difficulties with coordination and movement) ; as well as Language and Social Communication Disorders. People with Learning Disabilities may suffer from low self-esteem, therefore it is important to provide them with the appropriate support. Here are some useful tips for supporting someone with a Learning Disability:
- See them as an individual, rather than seeing their disability first and foremost.
- Learn to communicate in a way that is accessible to them. This depends on the Learning Disability, but in general talk slowly, use body language and visual guides or cues if possible.
- Help them get the social support they need – from school, their doctor etc.
Autism Spectrum Disorders require significant support from the people closest to them, as well as society in general. Psycho-education is an vital factor in understanding what support is required, how to deal with people suffering from this neurodevelopmental disorder and how to communicate with them.
A single anatomic abnormality or single physiologic process cannot explain the etiology of ASDs and it is likely that several risk factors in the genes, brain anatomy and environment, combine to cause the Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Anxiety is very common in people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and it is important to be calm, slow and clear. Here are some useful tips on how you can communicate with a person who has ASD:
- Use their name when you are talking to them.
- Make sure they are paying attention before you asking anything of them.
- Use what they are currently doing to engage them.
- Talk slowly and clearly – less is more.
- If they are showing signs of anxiety, use non-verbal communication to calm them.
- Be specific.
- Only ask questions when they are absolutely necessary.
- Try not to use the word “no”, but do set your boundaries by explaining why something is not acceptable.
- Short attention span.
- Being very easily distracted.
- Failure to complete tasks.
- Forgetfulness and disorganisation.
- Inability to sit still, fidgeting.
- Excessive talking.
- Inability to wait their turn, interrupting etc.
However, simply having some of these symptoms does not mean you/your child have ADHD. The symptoms would have to be present for at least 6 months and be abnormal for the stage of development. The symptoms also usually improve with age. It is always best to seek professional help rather than trying to diagnose ADHD, your GP should be able to point you in the right direction.