What is Specific Developmental Disorder?: Causes, Treatment

Specific developmental disorders are characterized by inadequate development, in usually a particular area of functioning. The deficit in functioning may be in any of the following areas:

Reading (Developmental reading disorder or Dyslexia)Language (Developmental language disorder or Dysphasia). 

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Mathematics (Developmental mathematics disorder or Dyscalculia).

Articulation (Developmental articulation disorder or phonological disorder or Dyslalia)Coordination (Developmental coordination disorder).

To get started, you’ll need to know: All About Speech Disorders

At times, more than one developmental disorder is present. 

All the developmental disorders either cause impairment in academic functioning at school (significantly when language is affected) or impairment in daily activities. In most children, the cause is cerebral disorders.

Treatment of these disorders is based on learning theory principles and is behavioural in approach.


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Table of Contents

Causes of specific developmental disorder

  • Premature birth can also cause developmental problems.

Read: Factors Affecting Growth and Developments of Child

  • Developmental may be a symptom of other underlying medical conditions.
  • Genetic disorders such as Down syndrome
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
  • Landau Kleffner syndrome
  • From myopia, including muscular dystrophy

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Symptoms of specific developmental disorder

  • Children with specific learning disabilities often present with inaccurate or slow effortful word reading, difficulty understanding the meaning of what reads, and trouble with spellings. 
  • They may have visual processing defects whereby the letters look distorted or disoriented.

They might have difficulty in making the meaning of words.

  • These children often have slow vocabulary pronunciation difficulty and difficulty expressing a single word or frequent grammatical mistakes.
  • Associated with obsessive-compulsive disorders, epilepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity, and tic disorders.

Read: All about ADHD Iceberg and Body Doubling Adhd

  • May have isolated learning difficulty despite average intelligence and sounds emotional and academic support.
  • These children often are not able to cope up with routine education in conventional schooling.

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  • Multidisciplinary team approach is required with the pediatrician, pediatric neurologist, counselor, clinical psychologist, and special educator.
  • Must do a Comprehensive assessment of health, vision, hearing, intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities.
  • Remedial education remains the mainstay of treatment. It should ideally begin early when the child is in primary school.
  • Special educator formulates Individual Education Program (IEP) that needs hourly sessions twice/thrice weekly.
  • Accommodations in the form of overlooking minor details while marking the answer sheets, relaxation of spelling errors, and shifting from language-based tests to non-language-based assessments (MCQs, drawings) are a few of the measures.

 It is essential to realize the two terms inclusive education and reasonable accommodation used in the context of specific learning disorders:

Inclusive education: 

  • System of education wherein all students (those with or without disability) learn together, with a system adapted to meet the learning needs of different types of students such that learning outcomes of comparable quality are achieving for all students

Reasonable accommodation: 

  • Necessary, appropriate modification and adjustment for students with disabilities. For example, housing in school for children with specific learning disabilities includes the provision of writer, reader, extra time, exemption from the second language. 

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