Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Neurodevelopmental disorders are a group of conditions that start in early childhood, and people with these disorders have very specific limitations in their learning or control of executive functions related to social skills or intelligence. These disorders frequently co-occur with one another. Examples of neurodevelopmental disorders include Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Learning Disorders.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a disorder in which people have difficulty with (1) focusing and sustaining attention, and/or (2) hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Most people have difficulty with these two things once in a while, but the difficulty is so great for people with ADHD that they experience significant impairment resulting in problems at school or work.

Here are some common symptoms of ADHD:

Attention Problems:

  • Difficulty paying attention to details or frequently making careless mistakes
  • Difficulty sustaining attention during activities
  • Difficulty following through on instructions or failing to finish activities  (e.g., school work or chores)
  • Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Dislike of activities that require sustained attention or focus
  • Frequently losing things
  • Becoming easily distracted
  • Experiencing forgetfulness

Hyperactivity & Impulsivity Problems:

  • Frequently fidgeting or squirming with hands or feet
  • Difficulty sitting still
  • Feeling restless
  • Difficulty doing things quietly
  • Feeling constantly “on the go”
  • Talking too much
  • Frequently frustrated when having to wait
  • Frequently interrupting others
  • Failing to think things through before acting

ADHD can manifest itself in different ways:

  • Predominantly Inattentive Type is a form of ADHD in which the person mainly has difficulty with attention and has fewer symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity.
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type is a form of ADHD in which the person mainly has difficulty with hyperactivity and/or impulsivity and has less difficulty with attention.
  • Combined Type is a form of ADHD in which the person has major difficulties with both attention and with hyperactivity or impulsivity.


Want to learn more about ADHD?


National Resource Center on AD/HD
Provides comprehensive information and resources about AD/HD, diagnosis and treatment, dealing with systems, educational issues, and living with AD/HD.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
This site, specifically targeted to children and adolescents, offers a specific section called “Facts for Families” containing articles on topics such as the transition to college with a mental disorder, ADHD, Autism, depression, eating disorders, and advocacy; a medical professional finder, and more.


Taking Charge of Adult ADHD by Russel Barkley, 2010
This book provides step-by-step strategies for managing symptoms and reducing the impact of ADHD symptoms, gives hands-on self-assessment tools and skills-building exercises, and clear answers to frequently asked questions about medications and other treatments. Specific techniques are presented for overcoming challenges in critical areas where people with the disorder often struggle—work, finances, relationships, and more.

Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults by Thomas Brown, 2005
A leading expert in assessment and treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder dispels myths and offers clearly written, science-based, practical information about treatments. Dr. Brown proposes a new understanding of ADD/ADHD and offers compelling examples of the daily life challenges it presents for children, adolescents, and adults.

Scattered Minds: Hope and Help for Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder by Lenard Adler, 2006
This book presents the latest findings on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in adults. It reveals hidden warning signs, debunks common misconceptions, and offers information on obtaining an accurate diagnosis, along with treatment options that include medications and proven coping strategies. A screening quiz is also included.

ADD and Romance: Finding Fulfillment in Love, Sex, & Relationships by Jonathon Halverstadt, 1998
This book outlines how ADD can impact romantic relationships and provides guidance for managing ADD and maintaining healthy relationships.

What I learned From Lighting Fires at the Dinner Table. by Blake Taylor, 2007
Blake Taylor`s memoir, written when he was 17, offers a young person`s account of what it`s like to live and grow up with ADHD.

ADHD Grown Up by Joel Young, 2007
This book presents an overview of adolescent and adult ADHD which provides practical information and guidance for the general public and treating clinicians.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that is characterized by impaired development in social interaction, communication and behavior. It is considered a spectrum disorder due to the variation in type and severity of symptoms one may experience. Signs of autism arise before the age of three, yet this disorder continues through adulthood.

Symptoms may include problems in:

  • Social interactions and relationships
    • Problems developing non-verbal communication skills such as eye contact, facial expressions, and body posture
    • Failure to establish and maintain friendships
    • Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment and interests with others
    • Lack of empathy
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication
    • Problems taking steps to start a conversation or maintain a conversation
    • Stereotyped and repetitive use of language, such as repeating phrases over and over again
    • Difficulty understanding other’s perspectives, such as understanding humor, sarcasm, and irony
  • Limited interest in activities and play
    • Stereotyped behaviors such as body rocking or hand flapping
    • Need for sameness and routines
    • Preoccupation with stereotyped patterns of interest abnormal in intensity or focus
    • Preoccupation with parts or objects


Want to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder?


Autism Speaks
Offers information on the science of Autism and promotes awareness, advocacy, and family services.

Autism Society of America
Includes information on autism, life with autism, research and programs, community resources, and more.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
This site, specifically targeted to children and adolescents, offers a specific section called “Facts for Families” containing articles on topics such as the transition to college with a mental disorder, ADHD, Autism, depression, eating disorders, and advocacy; a medical professional finder, and more.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Provides health and human development information, research, funding for research and training, and news and media reports


Thinking in Pictures: And Other Reports from My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin, 2006
Writing from the dual perspectivies of a scientist and as an individual with autism, Temple Grandin describes her experience living with Autism and offers insight on the nature of the disorder.

Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism by Roy Grinker, 2007
Written by an anthropologist and father of a child with autism, the book documents the author’s search for answers about Autism and argues that the increased prevalence of autism is not the result of an “epidemic” but rather of greater diagnosis brought about by increased understanding of the disorder.

Life and Love: Positive Strategies for Autistic Adults by Zaks Zosia, 2006
This book describes and suggests concrete ways to deal with some of the issues and problems faced by those on the autism spectrum. It also includes suggestions for maintaining different types of relationships.

What are Learning Disorders?

People with learning disorders have average or above-average intelligence, yet have difficulty in one or more areas of learning that are significant enough to cause academic, occupational, or daily life problems.

Learning disorders are NOT an indication of low intelligence. In fact, many brilliant and influential people struggle with learning disorders.

Learning disorders can manifest themselves in different ways. Here are some common learning disorders:

Reading Disorder is a condition in which people have great difficulty reading accurately and/or comprehending what they read.

Mathematics Disorder is a condition in which people have difficulty performing various processes needed to complete math problems (e.g., reading or writing numbers, comprehending word problems, organizing numbers, etc.).

Disorder of Written Expression is a condition in which a person has great difficulty writing clearly, organizing thoughts, using correct grammar, and writing coherent thoughts.

Want to learn more about Learning Disorders?

Try the following resources:


For treatment and support options, see our find treatment services section or our support resources section.


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