Cognitive Delays And Impairment
Your child’s cognitive development is one of the most important aspects of his growth, as it is here where he hones his senses and develops his brain in order to interact with the world around him. Thus, any problem in this area can have a major impact not only on his growth but also on his whole life. In this post, we will take a look at some of such problems you and your child will encounter and how you can spot and deal with them.
What are the kinds of cognitive problems?
As cognitive development encompasses a large number of different areas of your child’s growth, there are a lot of problems that you might encounter. However, the most common of these are developmental delays. Developmental delays occur when developmental milestones do not occur at the expected period or do not happen at all.
It is worth noting that it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between true developmental delay and “delays” that are simply a product of variation in development times between children. Sometimes, what might look like a delay would suddenly spur a development and your child would proceed normally from there. Hence, as a rule of thumb, if a particular milestone has not yet arrived two months after it is supposed to appear, then it should be considered as a sign of potential delay.
On the other hand, cognitive impairment is when your child’s cognitive faculties are not functioning properly. For instance, your child’s seem as if he is slow to react to a ball rolled in front of him. Often the impairment is accompanied by the impairment of a related body part, such as poor eyesight. Also, cognitive delays go alongside impairment, as the former is often caused by the latter.
What causes delays and impairment?
Often, these delays and impairments are brought about by genetic disorders. Down syndrome is one of the most recognized genetic-based cognitive disorders and is characterized by severe mental and cognitive impairment. Before, it was difficult to diagnose these disorders. However, with the emergence of new prenatal genetic testing methods, doctors are now able to determine the probability of your child developing such disorders even before he is born. This is useful in devising a comprehensive care plan for your kid once he comes out into the world.
The mother’s condition during pregnancy also has a significant effect on the developing fetus and can contribute to possible cognitive delays and impairments. For instance, infections and illness contracted during pregnancy can lower the mother’s immune system and cause infections to the baby. On the other hand, babies whose mother drink a lot during pregnancy run a high risk of contracting a condition known as fetal alcohol syndrome, which can lead to cognitive and intellectual impairment.
Post-natal illnesses and trauma can also sometimes lead to cognitive impairment and delays. However, since these are more readily detectable, swift mitigation and prevention can be done.
What are the signs of cognitive delays and impairment?
One of the most difficult things to deal with when it comes to detecting cognitive delays and impairments is that it can take a long time before the signs appear. Hence, even if your child is seemingly fine, constant monitoring is st a good practice.
How he responds to outside stimuli is often the biggest indicator of a delay or an impairment. For instance, by one-year-old, your baby is supposed to already know his name. Thus, if he does not respond when being called, it can indicate either hearing impairment or attention problems.
His behavior is also a key indicator of potential problems. Does he keep to himself too much? Is he having trouble expressing his thoughts? Does he suddenly burst into temper fits? If the answer here is mostly yes, then it is time to consult your pediatrician.
Dealing with cognitive delays and impairment
In most cases, therapy is the only way to deal with cognitive delays. The exact therapeutic procedure depends on the specific condition of your child. Here, early implementation is important, as the younger your child is when therapy begins, the more readily his brain is able to accept the treatment and grow. Luckily, though, many of the latest therapies have a high success rate for wider age ranges. In the case of cognitive impairments, however, these are lifelong conditions. Hence, the goal of therapy is to help the child adapt to and work with the condition he has. Often, this involves teaching him different techniques that he could use to work around his disability. In both cases, your role as a parent is very important for his progress. Don’t shelter him too much for fear that he might not be able to adapt. Let him freely explore his environment while still being at his side for support. This will definitely help him a lot to cope with his condition.