What is neurodevelopment and how does a disorder develop?

A child’s neurodevelopment is a dynamic interaction between environment, gene and brain function (cognitive, emotional and behavioural). This interactive process occurs across the lifespan from pregnancy to adolescence. Significant and persistent disruption to this dynamic process through environmental, nurturing and genetic risk can lead to neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) and disability.

The disorders typically manifest early in development, often before the child enters school, and are characterised by developmental deficits that produce impairments of personal, social, academic, or occupational functioning.

What are these neurodevelopmental disorders and what is the size of the problem?

Examples of neurodevelopmental disorders in children include Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 5-7 %, autism (ASD) 1 %, Tourette syndrome 1%, learning disabilities 10%, conduct disorders, cerebral palsy, genetic condition such as Downs syndrome and impairments in vision and hearing.

Children with neurodevelopmental disorders can experience difficulties with language and speech, motor skills, behaviour, memory, learning, social skills, executive function or other neurological functions.

One evaluation of early childhood developmental status in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) estimates that 15.7% of children are significantly delayed in their cognitive development, 26.3% in socioemotional development and 36.8% in either or both.

How children and families are affected?

Long delay in assessment and finding out what is the diagnosis with their child. Parents felt they were not given proper explanations of why their child’s development was delayed, or the type of services to get and what they can do? When they get a diagnosis of Autism/ ASD, the child is quickly discharged without looking at additional problems and without offering ongoing support and management for their health. All the future management was left to the education department to pick up the pieces and offer longer term management. Many parents felt professionals gave a negative outlook for their child and that they were left abandoned. This has seriously affected the quality of life for the child and family members. Many parents felt scared to talk about their child to friends, family and to get help in managing the child. There was a lack of service and support group to serve the needs of these parents and family.

Solution – formation of SPARKS parent support group to develop resilience

A consultant neuro developmental Paediatrician with experience in starting and conducting parent groups assessed a few children and identified the gaps. With the help of motivated parents and friends of the affected families in September 2018 SPARKS parent support group was inaugurated to work towards achieving a sparkling successful future for the child and family.