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Neurodevelopmental and Neurocognitive Disorders Paper

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Neurodevelopmental and Neurocognitive Disorders Paper

July 10, 2016

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Neurodevelopment and Neurocognitive Disorders Paper

        Not everything in nature functions as it was designed to. Sometimes there are circumstances that interfere with the way an organ does its particular job. The result of this organ not functioning correctly can lead to changes that are not usually seen in a person’s behavior. In the case of neurodevelopmental and neurocognitive disorders, changes in behavior, mood, and emotions are caused by changes in the brain. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and Alzheimer’s disease are examples of disorders where changes in the brain affect a person’s behavior, mood, and emotions. Neurodevelopment and neurocognitive disorders are the topic of many research studies in order to gain a better understanding of these disorders, as well as to develop treatments.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

        Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder characterized by difficulties that interfere with effective task-oriented behavior in children – particularly impulsivity, excessive or exaggerated motor activity, such as aimless or haphazard running or fidgeting, and difficulties in sustaining attention (Butcher, Hooley, & Mineka, 2014). Children with ADHD exhibit behavior that can make learning and following directions difficult. They are highly distractible and have a hard time staying focused on a given task. Perhaps because of this, these children tend to do poorly in school and score low on evaluations and tests. Children with ADHD also tend to talk to the extreme and demonstrate immature social skills. Because of their impulsivity and over activity, children with ADHD often have social problems and find it hard to make friends. Their relationship with their parents also tends to suffer because of their inability to follow rules.

Behavioral Criteria

        Behavioral criteria for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder are characterized by several symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity and impulsivity (Butcher, et al., 2014). For a diagnosis of ADHD to be made, a child must have six or more symptoms in each of the categories of inattention and hyperactivity and impulsivity that persist for six months and are not consistent with development and causes negative implications on social and academic activities. The symptoms for inattention include failure to pay close attention to detail, difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or activities, seems to listen when spoken to, does not follow through on instructions and often fails to finish tasks, has difficulties with activities that involve organization, does not like activities that require sustained mental activity, often loses things that are needed for a task or activity, often distracted or sidetracked from a task or activity, and often forgets daily activities and chores. The symptoms seen in hyperactivity and impulsivity include fidgeting and squirming, often gets out of seat, runs, and climbs in inappropriate situations, is unable to participate in quiet activities quietly, is uncomfortable being still for an extended period of time, often talks extensively, blurts out answers before a question can be completely asked, has a difficult time waiting their turn, and often interrupts and intrudes on others.

Incidence Rates and Causes

        ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders seen in children. Approximately two million children in the United States have the disorder. There is usually at least one child in every classroom with ADHD. ADHD is most prevalent in preadolescent boys and is six to nine times more likely to be seen in boys than girls. While the exact cause of ADHD is not known, it seems to have several likely causes. There seems to be a strong genetic component associated with the development of ADHD. This is believed to have to do with the levels of certain chemicals in the brain. There have also been environmental factors associated with the development of ADHD. It is thought that smoking and drinking during pregnancy, as well as delivery complication, can be contributing factors of ADHD. Head injuries and low birth weight have also been associated with ADHD.

Treatment Options

        The most popular form of treatment for ADHD is the use of drugs to calm the child. There are several drugs on the market that are used in the treatment of ADHD; however Ritalin is the name brand of the most common prescribed ADHD medication for children. The drug has been proven to change the behavior of children with ADHD to a relatively normal level.  Another form of treatment for ADHD is behavioral therapy techniques.  Behavioral therapy techniques utilize positive reinforcements and restructuring of curriculum to minimize errors and provide immediate feedback for success. An example would be providing praise to a boy with ADHD when he was able to stay on task. Behavioral therapy techniques have proven to be successful in the short-term.

Alzheimer’s disease

        Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disorder (Butcher et al., 2014). It is named after Alois Alzheimer, a German neuropathologist who first described the disease in 1907. It is the most common cause of dementia. Characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease in the early stages include short-term memory loss, difficulty performing familiar tasks, disorientation, increasing problems with planning, trouble with language, rapid, unpredictable mood swings, lack of motivation, and changes in sleep. In the middle stages, the characteristics include difficulty completing everyday tasks, hallucinations, strong feelings of paranoia and fear, and wondering.  As the disease progresses to the later stages, characteristics include inability to communicate with or recognize other people, inability to walk, difficulty swallowing, and inability to smile (Webmd.com, n.d.). As described, Alzheimer’s disease has a slow but, progressively deteriorating path ending in delirium and death.  

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