Cognitive & Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Cognitive Disorders

Cognitive Disorders are a group of disorders that are caused by deficits in a person’s cognition. Cognition is the interplay between memory, emotion, language (both expressive, and receptive), processing of external stimuli (visions, sound, touch etc) and orientation. Examples of cognitive disorders include delirium, dementia, acquired brain injury and intellectual disability.

Some mental illnesses can lead to cognitive deficits. For example, patients with Schizophrenia can experience cognitive regression leading to a cognitive deficit that impairs day to day function.

Cognitive disorders can be temporary or permanent depending on the cause. Even if the disorder is permanent (e.g. dementia) the progression and course can sometimes be delayed leading to a better quality of life.

Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Neurodevelopmental disorders are usually disorders that appear earlier on in life. Examples of such disorders include Autism, Intellectual Disability, Developmental Delay, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) to name a few.

Neurodevelpmental Disorders can significantly impair one’s socio-vocational function. Whilst most are incurable it is quite possible to improve the cognitive capacity and modify behavioural aspects of these disorders. Early identification and intervention can significantly improve outcomes for younger children of schooling age, especially in their early formative years.  This can in turn lead to an improvement in their ability to integrate into mainstream schools.

Learning Disorders

Specific Learning Disorder (often referred to as learning disorder or learning disability) is a disorder that begins during school-age, although it may not be recognised until adulthood. Learning disabilities refers to ongoing problems in one of three areas: reading, writing and math.  Unfortunately these areas are foundational to one’s ability to learn.

An estimated 5 to 15 percent of school-age children struggle with a learning disability. An estimated 80 percent of those with learning disorders have reading disorder in particular (commonly referred to as dyslexia). One-third of people with learning disabilities are estimated to also have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Other specific skills that may be impacted include the ability to put thoughts into written words, spelling, reading comprehension, math calculation and math problem solving. Difficulties with these skills may cause problems in learning subjects such as history, maths, science and social studies and may impact everyday activities.  Behavioural problems can also be a consequence of a learning disorder.

Learning disorders, if not recognized and managed, can cause problems throughout a person’s life beyond having lower academic achievement. These problems include increased risk of greater psychological distress, poorer overall mental health, unemployment/under-employment and dropping out of school.

Why Diagnosis is Important

The benefits of Early Diagnosis and Early Intervention have been well established, for both cognitive and neurodevelopment disorders.  Often it is not only the patient who suffers.  As with mental illness these disorders are associated with high burden for the family and carers mostly due to lack of direction and support on how to best manage patients with these conditions.

Early diagnosis can improve early access to assistance.  Our healthcare system has provisions for additional support but they usually require a formal diagnosis.  In addition to accessing appropriate medical treatment, early diagnosis also facilitates appropriate intervention for the individual and family or carers by adding appropriate support and/or respite, reducing carer burnout and improving overall functional capacity of the individual.

Early intervention for children of schooling age may impact their ability to remain in mainstream schools, to integrate better socially, and may also increase their capacity to mitigate their own functional deficits.

We can help!

The Shrink Company has specialised clinicians with a broad range of skills and experience in diagnosis, management, and treatment of both cognitive disorders and neurodevelopment disorders. As we have in-house clinicians in both Psychiatry, Psychology and Behavioural Support domains, we are able to provide a wraparound service for patients in need