Neurodevelopmental disorders are characterized by a set of symptoms attributed to differences in a child’s brain and nervous system. While other mental health conditions can potentially be attributed at least partially to neurological differences, teen neurodevelopmental disorders are early-onset conditions wherein neurological factors play a larger causal role. Neurodevelopmental disorders vary greatly in severity and treatment. Teen neurodevelopmental disorders treatment require programs that are individually tailored to the symptoms and challenges; no two cases are exactly alike.
Types, Signs and Symptoms of Teen Neurodevelopmental Disorders
There are a variety of teen neurodevelopmental disorders. Common ones include intellectual disability, communication disorders, learning disabilities, and cerebral palsy. At Visions Treatment Centers, we focus on treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and nonverbal learning disorder (NLD or NVLD). ADHD affects over 9 percent of children in the United States, ASD affects one in 54 children (between 1 and 2 percent), and NVLD affects 3-4% of children.
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is predominantly characterized by inattentive symptoms or hyperactive symptoms. Children usually present mostly one or the other, and some present both together. Common signs and symptoms for children with predominantly inattentive ADHD include:
- Being easily distracted
- Making careless mistakes
- Forgetting simple details
- Not being present mentally
- Daydreaming often
- Avoiding anything requiring long periods of effort
- Cannot follow through on instructions
Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD
While many of the symptoms below seem “normal” without specific context, ADHD is usually only diagnosed after a consistent streak of abnormally hyperactive or inattentive behavior, and only after symptoms evidently and frequently interfere with school, social interactions, or work. Symptoms cannot be confined to just one setting (i.e. the child or teen acts this way at home and school), and include the following:
- Fidget or squirm constantly
- Distract others and interrupt conversations
- Cannot wait for their turn
- Are physically restless and engage in reckless behavior
- Often cannot remain seated
- Cannot play quietly
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
ASD is an umbrella term for a variety of symptoms associated with autism. Autism may be severe or mild, and children and teens may struggle severely with some aspects of normal living but not with others. Different diagnoses of autism are sometimes categorized as high- or low-functioning, but this distinction rarely accurately portrays the struggles of even mild autism, and how it affects the quality of life, especially without proper support. Symptoms of ASD include:
- Repeating phrases and sounds (without understanding them)
- Mimicking movements or behaviors
- Difficulty with context and social interaction
- Difficulty making eye contact
- Abnormal body and facial language
- Severe sleep issues
- Responding to stress with anger
- Intense passion for a single topic or interest
- Gastrointestinal issues
Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD or NVLD)
Nonverbal learning disorder (NLD or NVLD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by great verbal skills and an often-extensive vocabulary, but poor non-verbal communication and learning. Symptoms of NLD include:
- Taking things very literally
- Lack of common sense or understanding context
- Poor self-esteem and low mood
- Feeling socially withdrawn
- Struggling with body language and tone of voice
- Not understanding math and abstract reasoning
Bridging the Gap Between Teen Neurodevelopmental Disorders Treatment and Recovery
Teen neurodevelopmental disorders treatment differ from disorder to disorder, and from person to person. Some cases require medication as well as therapy. At Visions Treatment Centers, we develop teen neurodevelopmental disorders treatment plans that address various important aspects, including:
Certain cases of ASD and severe forms of ADHD can be treated in part with medication. This is especially true in cases with co-occurring physical symptoms, as with some cases of ASD. Certain classes of medication are used for treating ADHD and ASD symptoms, including stimulants, antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants. It is important to note these drugs target specific symptoms rather than the disorder itself.
Individual and Group Therapy
One-on-one as well as group therapy can go a long way towards helping teens with neurodevelopmental disorders. For ASD, a type of therapy called applied behavior analysis is often effective. This type of therapy helps children and teens with ASD work on reducing problematic behavior and reinforcing appropriate behaviors.
Behavioral Training and Occupational Therapy
We help teens with NLD via body language training, physical therapy, and other treatments. Teens with handwriting and coordination issues can learn to build fine motor skills and learn to type via occupational therapy, and we address social behavior issues via individual and group behavioral training.
Aftercare and Support
Often times, teen neurodevelopmental disorders treatment is a long-term process. The amount of support a teen will need will differ widely, but all teens with neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly ASD, need support. While autism cannot be “treated”, children and teens with ASD can be taught ways to cope with the challenges they face and improve their quality of life.
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Visions’ Teen Neurodevelopmental Disorders Treatment Programs
At Visions Treatment Centers, our teen neurodevelopmental disorders treatment programs start with a thorough physical and mental health assessment, as well as any relevant factors for treatment outcome and recovery aftercare. Teen neurodevelopmental disorders, especially when severe, require a lot of patience and understanding. Continuous teen neurodevelopmental disorders treatment can help in coping with symptoms, and in working towards greater self-sufficiency. Due to the importance of the long-term support of teen neurodevelopmental disorders, we coordinate with parents in aftercare, and finding local resources to meet a teen’s educational needs. With the right support, a teen can lead a fulfilling life.