Developmental disorders in children, definition and shapes

Designate developmental disorders Brain maturation disorders from (early) childhood, so that the level of development of these children does not correspond to that of average children. Developmental disorders take a continuous course, i.e. they do not go through changing phases like many other mental disorders. A developmental disorder is usually not preceded by a period of normal maturation of the affected function, but the development of the respective function is practically disrupted from the start.

Types of developmental disorders

There are different types of disorders in developmental disorders. These include in particular:

  • Developmental disorders of language and speech
  • Developmental disorders of school skills, e.g. Reading and spelling disorder (dyslexia), arithmetic disorder (dyscalculia)
  • Developmental disorders of motor functions
  • Deep developmental disorders, e.g. Autism, Rett syndrome

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Developmental disorders of language and speech

Developmental disorders of language and speech indicate an inadequate language development from the beginning, which does not indicate

  • neurological disorders
  • Environmental factors (such as moving to another language area)
  • sensory impairments (hearing loss) or
  • intelligence too low

can be traced back. It should be noted that different children of course do not develop at the same time and many children at least sometimes have a rather slow pace of development, without this being regarded as a disorder.

A Only then is there a fault, if the development of the relevant function is extremely slow over a long period of time or if related functions are disrupted at the same time. This means that there is a higher probability of a speech disorder if, for example, pronounced reading or writing problems occur at the same time or in succession. However, there is no talk of a speech disorder if all functions develop poorly, as this indicates a general decrease in intelligence.

What kind of speech and speech disorders are there??

  • A specific disorder of language development is the so-called. articulation disorder. Here individual sounds or sound connections are either completely missing, they are used incorrectly or twisted or replaced by other sounds. Articulation disorders are the most common language development disorders and occur in approximately 7 percent of 5-year-old boys and 2 percent of 5-year-old girls.
  • In the expressive speech disorder the child is unable to express itself in an age-appropriate manner, for example, cannot speak sentences appropriate to age, but understanding of the language towards others is normal.
  • If the speech understanding is disturbed, one of the receptive speech disorder spoken.
  • At the stutter there is a disturbance in the speech flow, either due to an inhibition or interruption of the flow of speech, whereby sounds or syllables are often repeated or stretched. Stuttering occurs in 5 percent of 5-year-old boys and 2 percent of 5-year-old girls.
  • That too rant is a disorder of the speaking fluid, it shows through extremely unrhythmic and irregular speech flow at sometimes very fast speech speed.

Developmental disorders of school skills

These developmental disorders include reading and spelling disorders (dyslexia) and arithmetic disorders (dyscalculia). Both faults occur as partial performance faults, i.e. the remaining skills are developed according to age. Approximately 10 percent of all children are affected by partial performance disorders, boys significantly more than girls. For the reading-spelling disorder, disease rates are between 4 and 7 percent, for the Computing disorder up to 6 percent.

In the case of these developmental disorders, the school assessments of the respective disrupted functions are in the lowest range. Often exist additional problems like inattentiveness or hyperactivity and the disorder does not go away easily when the child is offered more support. As a result of circumscribed partial performance disorders, experiencing failure, ridicule and poor performance can lead to emotional problems such as fears, disorders in social behavior, psychosomatic symptoms or refusal to go to school.

Reading and spelling disorder

The dyslexia manifests itself in omitting, twisting, replacing or adding letters or words when writing and reading, a slow reading speed with pronounced starting difficulties and frequent hesitation as well as swapping letters in words or words in sentences.

That too Reading comprehension is disturbed, the affected children can e.g. Do not reproduce what you have read in your own words or draw your own conclusions from what you have read. Dyslexia is often preceded by a language development delay. In adulthood, Difficulties with spelling persist, reading skills usually normalize. Instead of a reading-spelling disorder, in some cases a pure spelling disorder can be observed, while the reading ability and understanding are not impaired.

In addition to conveying information to parents and children, the therapeutic focus is on exercise treatments for the impaired functions. In addition, depending on the legal situation of the respective federal state, options under school law such as dyslexia bonuses or additional remedial classes can be used.

Case Study: Reading Spelling Disorder (Dyslexia)

The 9-year-old Joachim is referred by the pediatrician to the child and adolescent psychiatric outpatient clinic. He was a cheerful and age-appropriate boy until he started school. From the beginning of the first class, he had great difficulties in acquiring reading and writing skills, although both the teacher and the mother had given him great support. It is striking that Joachim writes the same words on the same page very differently and even has difficulty copying one word from the other. In all other subjects, on the other hand, he performs very well and works actively.

After reading and writing problems have dragged on for two and a half years, Joachim has less and less fun at school, he often sleeps poorly, in the morning he often complains of abdominal pain, which often means he cannot get in the school go.

Arithmetic disorder (dyscalculia)

At the arithmetic fault basic math skills how to master the four basic arithmetic functions well below the age norm. Various errors can occur. For example, the concepts of the types of calculations are not understood, the mathematical expressions and characters are not understood or not recognized, the multiplication tables are not remembered or the number structure and the correct number sequence are not understood. The spatial imagination of the affected children may be below average.

Developmental disorders of motor functions

With this disorder, the children are unskillful in their movements (for example, they have difficulties dressing themselves, tying shoes, working with scissors and glue, drawing or painting). More complicated movements such as cycling or swimming are learned very slowly. The affected children easily come into one because of deficits in school, sport and leisure outsider.

For the diagnosis, it is important to clarify that the developmental disorders cannot be explained by a visual impairment. About 1.4 percent of all schoolchildren are affected, boys twice as often as girls. Therapeutically, exercise therapies and training of body awareness are indicated.

Deep developmental disorders

Like the Rett syndrome, autism is one of the so-called profound developmental disorders, which are characterized by severe impairments of social interactions and communication as well as stereotypical and little varied interests or movements.


In early childhood autism, which begins before the age of 3, they are social interactions badly disturbed. The children can assess social signals poorly and show little reaction to the respective social context, there is no social or emotional reciprocity, and social play hardly occurs. Language development is often also disturbed, in any case will the Existing language hardly used socially and used little flexibly.

In addition, the children show rigid, severely restricted and frequently repeating behavior patterns (stereotypes), e.g. the frequent touching or smelling of things or a ritual occupation with timetables or data. In addition to these characteristics, autistic children often have various behavioral problems such as fears, self-harm (e.g. hitting their head on the wall or biting their hands), sleeping and eating disorders.

An easier form is Asperger’s syndrome. Here, too, the children show impaired communication, stereotypical behavior and idiosyncratic use of the language, but the intellectual performance and development of language skills are not impaired. Up to 0.1 percent of all children are autistic, with boys being affected two to three times as often as girls.

Rett Syndrome

In Rett syndrome, which only affects girls and begins between the 7th and 24th month of life, there is a partial or complete loss of already acquired motor and language skills. Stereotypical writhing hand movements are typical.

In the course of it also to physical abnormalities and symptoms with slow head growth, epileptic seizures. Overall, the course is bad and cannot be influenced positively.

Dr. Gitta Jacob


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