Trastornos del neurodesarrollo: concepto, tipos y tratamiento

Neurodevelopmental disorders: concept, types and treatment


An estimated 5% to 10% of the population are affected by neurodevelopmental disorders whichtypically onset in childhood, prior to puberty, in the developmental period.

Any changes or alterations in the complex process of brain development can result in individuals with atypical brain development.

In a significant percentage of cases, the manifestations of the disorder persistthroughout the individual’s lifetime, although the most recent research suggests that there are reasons for optimism regarding the treatment of some neurodevelopmental disorders in adulthood.

What are neurodevelopmental disorders? Definition

Neurodevelopmental disorders are “a group of heterogeneous conditions characterized by delay or disturbance in the acquisition of skills in a variety of developmental domains, including motor, social, language, and cognition” (Thapar, Cooper & Rutter, 2016).

The great diversity of neurodevelopmental disorders is reflected in the fact that some of those affected show specific deficits (e.g., difficulty maintaining focus) that do not prevent them from having an independent and fulfilling life. Others, however, will need lifelong assistance with basic living skills necessary for independent living, such as the ability to walk and feed oneself.

What causes neurodevelopmental disorders?

Although the aetiology remains unknown in many cases, various factors can affect normal brain development. Causes can be classified as follows:

  • Geneticcauses: for example, genetic mutations and metabolic conditions at conception.
  • Prenatal causes: such as nutritional deficiencies and maternal infections during pregnancy.
  • Perinatal causes: for example, those due to complications that arise during labor, typically a lack of oxygen (hypoxia).
  • Postnatal causes: refer to factors such as traumatic brain injury, infections like meningitis or exposure to environmental toxins after birth.

Types of neurodevelopmental disorders

The category of neurodevelopmental disorders, as set out in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), includes:

Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disability is characterized by impaired general cognitive functioning to such an extent that it prevents the individual from achieving the skills necessary to perform the tasks expected for his or her age, for example, an adequate command of language or executive functions.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

ASD is characterized by difficulties in social communication and unusually restricted, repetitive behavior and interests.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Some prevalencestudies show that ADHD affects 3% to 7% of school-aged children and 4.4% of working-age adults (Michielsen et al, 2012). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is characterized by difficulty sustaining attention and/or hyperactivity—impulsivity.

Other neurodevelopmental disorders included in the DSM-5:

  • Specific learning disorders
  • Communication disorders
  • Global developmental delay
  • Unspecified intellectual disability
  • Other neurodevelopmental disorders

It is important to note that Individuals may have at least one co-occurring neurodevelopmental disorder, for example, individuals with ASD also have a high prevalence of ADHD and intellectual disability.

Treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders

Treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders will depend largely on the type of disorder and the predominant symptoms in each individual.

Essentially, treatment can be divided into pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions, the latter being the one with the greatest number of options at present.

Non-pharmacological interventions include behavioral therapy, psychosocial support and neuropsychological rehabilitation, among other options that stimulate skills that the child has not developed adequately, in addition to offering the necessary support to live a meaningful life.

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11 thoughts on “Neurodevelopmental disorders: concept, types and treatment

  1. Avatar
    kokabnoreen Wednesday December 12th, 2018 at 11:28 AM

    good job

    • Avatar
      NeuronUP Thursday December 20th, 2018 at 11:57 AM


  2. Avatar
    S'thombe Saturday April 6th, 2019 at 02:06 PM

    Thank you so much for helping us as students in mastering the conditions since the majority of them has slightly deferent symptoms because some has 5, some 7 and others 13. Therefore it happens that you find one condition sharing those that the other has already but when reading thoroughly and finding readings like these it makes work even much easier for us.

    • Avatar
      NeuronUP Friday April 12th, 2019 at 01:43 PM

      Hi S´Thombre,

      we’re glad you find this article useful!


      NeuronUP Team

  3. Avatar
    francisco Sunday November 10th, 2019 at 08:22 PM

    que son los trastornos del desarrollo. porque se llaman así, cuales son y cómo son abordados desde la Neuropsicología.

  4. Avatar
    FRIDA MERCEDES MARTINO GONZALES Sunday February 9th, 2020 at 04:35 AM


    • Avatar
      NeuronUP Monday February 10th, 2020 at 09:26 AM

      ¡Nos alegra que te guste Frida!

      Un saludo 🙂

  5. Avatar
    ruthy Sunday April 5th, 2020 at 02:13 AM

    me encanta todo muy detallado pero quisiera saber las fuentes bibliograficas

  6. Avatar
    Diana Saturday July 18th, 2020 at 05:53 AM

    Muy clara informacion para mi que inicio a estudiar psicologia clinica y me parecen por demás estos temas interesantes que con informacion tan clara y accesible a todos para aprender de estos temas.
    Muchas gracias !!!!

    • Avatar
      NeuronUP Monday July 27th, 2020 at 10:28 AM

      ¡Nos alegra mucho que te sea útil, Diana!

      Mucha suerte y ánimo en tu carrera, seguro que te va todo muy bien. ¡Disfruta del camino del aprendizaje! 🙂

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