Most parents, even today, do not take childhood disorders or mental disabilities in children as seriously as they would have considered physical illnesses. Be it due to the social stigma associated with mental illnesses or lack of knowledge, many tend to ignore the signs thinking these are just phases of childhood that will pass away with time.
As a result, these symptoms are left treated which only worsens the conditions. Children do not have the vocabulary or knowledge to convey their difficulties. So, it is the parents who need to educate themselves about the early childhood disorders and constantly keep looking out for the symptoms. Here are the most common childhood disorders and everything you need to know about them:
1. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):
ADHD, one of the most common childhood disorders, is a brain disorder that causes abnormal inattentive and/or hyperactive behaviours and interferes in the proper functioning. Children suffering from ADHD tend to face difficulties while paying attention, being patient, staying focused or controlling impulsive behaviour.
ADHD in children can be of 3 types:
A. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: The child suffering from this type of ADHD will not be able to concentrate on one task and get easily distracted or lose focus. Following instructions, being organized, paying attention to details is difficult for them.
B. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: The child suffering from this type of ADHD is hyperactive and impulsive. He will fidget, talk or tap excessively, be restless all the time and have a hard time waiting for their turn to speak or sit still.
C. Combined Presentation: A child that displays symptoms of both the types of ADHD mentioned above, are categorized into this type.
Symptoms of ADHD in children:
‣ Easily distracted
‣ Constantly losing focus and concentration
‣ Forgetting to complete the task at hand
‣ Being restless
‣ Difficulty waiting their turn
‣ Interrupting others while they’re talking
[Read more: 5 Ways To Know If Your kid Has ADD/ADHD]
2. Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD):
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is one of the most common childhood behavioural disorders known for its disruptive results and deliberately hostile behaviour of the children affected. ODD in children can be characterized by patterns of arguments, disobedience and angry outbursts towards people around them, especially parents, teachers, siblings or classmates. The child will frequently lose temper, defy the requests or rules set by the adults, blame others for his own mistakes, deliberately annoy others and misbehave.
Symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder:
‣ Frequently throwing tantrums
‣ Disobeying elders
‣ Defying to follow rules
‣ Blaming others for their mistakes
‣ Intentionally irritating others
3. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a common childhood disorder that occurs due to developmental disabilities in children, generally before the age of 3. It affects the child’s ability to communicate and interact with others, form relationship and engage in multiple interests or activities. The child suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder will have repetitive and restricted behavioural patterns. The symptoms for ASD varies according to the age of the child and severity of the disorder.
Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder:
‣ Avoids socializing and prefers to be alone
‣ Delayed language development
‣ Highly limited interests
‣ Repetitive words or behaviours
‣ Unusual and intense reaction to sounds, lights or colours etc.
‣ Difficulty understanding others and accepting even minor changes
[Read more: Autism - All You Need To Know]
4. Anxiety Disorders:
Anxiety disorders are the most common emotional disorders that can affect anyone at any age. People usually overlook the topic of anxiety in children as they believe at that age they live freely and do not encounter stress or anxiety. But if left untreated, the anxiety in children can pile up over the years and take the form of severe mental disorders.
Types of anxiety disorders in children:
A. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD)
B. Panic Attacks or Panic Disorders
D. Separation Anxiety Disorder
E. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
F. Social Anxiety Disorder
Symptoms of anxiety in children:
‣ Constantly worrying about things
‣ Nervousness and restlessness
‣ Elevated heart rate
‣ Loss of concentration
‣ An overwhelming feeling of fear and danger
‣ Difficulty in thinking clearly
Depression is one of most important childhood emotional disorders that most parents still fail to recognize and accept but it has been proved as one of the common reasons behind suicide cases of children. Depression is a feeling of extreme sadness and hopelessness that persists for a long time, the severity of which can differ from person to person. Just like adults, children suffering from depression too find it very difficult to talk about their feelings, which is why most parents end up ignoring it as childhood phase.
Symptoms of depression in children:
‣ Constant fatigue and low energy
‣ Loss of interest in daily activities
‣ Being too clingy to parents
‣ Feeling hopeless or worthless
‣ Lack of productivity
‣ Loss of sleep or sleeping too much
‣ Recurring thoughts of suicide
6. Bipolar Disorder:
Bipolar disorder is a serious brain disorder that characterized by extreme mood swings (mania and depression) and abnormal shifts in energy. Children with bipolar disorder suffer from periods of highs or mania and sudden lows or depression. In severe conditions, these fluctuations of mood and energy can lead to delusions, uncontrollable rage, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder:
‣ Being extremely energetic and happy for a longer than usual time (mania)
‣ Being impulsive, restless and easily distracted (mania)
‣ Racing thoughts (mania)
‣ Talking at a very fast pace (mania)
‣ Being depressed or hopeless for a longer than usual time (depression)
‣ Loss of appetite and energy, extreme fatigue (depression)
‣ Loss of interest in anything (depression)
‣ Recurring suicidal thoughts (depression)
7. Language Disorders:
Language disorders are one of the most common childhood disorders which affect the language development in children. The child suffering from language disorders will have a hard time understanding what others are saying as well as expressing their own thoughts and feeling with words.
There are 3 types of language disorders:
A. Receptive language issues - the child will not understand what others are saying
B. Expressive language issues - the child will not be able to express
C. Mixed (receptive-expressive) language issues - the child will neither understand what others are saying nor speak the right words and frame proper sentences.
Symptoms of language disorders:
‣ Limited vocabulary compared to other kids of the same age
‣ Limited ability to explain feelings or describe things with words
‣ Incorrect grammar and formation of sentences
‣ Having trouble understanding to others
[Read more: Language Developmental Milestones]
8. Conduct Disorders:
Conduct disorders are behavioural and emotional problems in children that fall under the disruptive childhood behavioural disorders. Misbehaving or being rebellious is common in children, but when it continues for more than 6 months, parents need to be conscious and look for the symptoms of conduct disorder in their child. Children suffering from conduct disorder can be very aggressive and destructive as well as show age-inappropriate behaviours.
Symptoms of conduct disorders:
‣ Lying and stealing
‣ Bullying others
‣ Purposefully hurting people or animals
‣ Hostile behaviours towards parents and teachers
‣ Early sexual activity
‣ Destruction of property
‣ Poor academic performances
If you have noticed any behaviour or behavioural change in your child that concerns you, consult your child’s doctor and if he suggests a specialist, do not hesitate to take your child for a consultation. With proper therapy and medication as well as love and support of parents, most of these disorders can be cured or controlled to a great extent.