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Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

Crozer Health Developmental and Behavioral Pediatricians provides evaluation and guidelines for managing care for children with a variety of motor, genetic, cognitive, behavioral, communicative and learning disorders. Pediatric specialists within the department work collaboratively across disciplines to diagnose and treat developmental disorders in children from birth to adolescence.

Conditions We Treat

Common developmental and behavioral conditions include:

Learning Disorders

Some children have difficulty in academic areas (reading, mathematics or written expression). If the difficulty experienced is severe enough to interfere with academic achievement or age-appropriate normal activities of daily living, the child may have a learning disorder. About 8% of children in schools are classified as having specific learning disabilities and receive some kind of special education support.

The following are the most common symptoms of learning disorders. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Reading Disorder: A reading disorder is present when a child reads below the expected level given his or her age, grade in school and intelligence. Children with a reading disorder read slowly and have difficulty understanding what they read. They may have difficulty with word recognition and confuse words that look similar. A reading disorder is sometimes called dyslexia.
  • Mathematics Disorder: A mathematics disorder is present when a child has problems with skills related to numbers. Examples of this include counting, copying numbers correctly, adding and carrying numbers, learning multiplication tables, recognizing mathematical signs, and understanding mathematical operations.
  • Disorder of Written Expression: A disorder of written expression is present when a child has difficulty with writing skills. Examples of this include understanding grammar and punctuation, spelling, paragraph organization, or composing written information. Often these children also have poor handwriting skills.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), also called attention-deficit disorder (ADD), is a behavior disorder that is usually first diagnosed in childhood but can affect adults as well.

ADHD is characterized by inattention, impulsivity and, in some cases, hyperactivity. The symptoms of hyperactivity, when present, are usually apparent by the age of seven and may be present in very young preschoolers. Inattention or attention-deficit may not be evident until a child faces the expectations of elementary school.

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Communication Disorders

There are several different types of communication disorders, including the following:

  • Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder: Mixed receptive-expressive language disorder identifies developmental delays and difficulties in the ability to understand spoken language and produce speech.
  • Expressive Language Disorder: Expressive language disorder identifies developmental delays and difficulties in the ability to produce speech.
  • Speech-Sound Disorders: Also known as a phonological disorder, this disorder happens when a child continues to have difficulty expressing words clearly past a certain age.
  • Childhood-Onset Fluency Disorder: Also known as stuttering, this disorder begins in childhood and can last throughout life.
  • Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder: A person with this disorder will have difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication that is not explained by low cognitive ability.

Communication disorders may be developmental or acquired. For unknown reasons, boys are diagnosed with communication disorders more often than girls are. Children with communication disorders often have other psychiatric disorders as well.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a problem that affects a child’s nervous system and growth and development. It usually shows up during a child’s first three years of life. Some children with ASD seem to live in their own world. They are not interested in other children and lack social awareness. A child with ASD focuses on following a routine that may include usual behaviors. A child with the disorder also often has problems communicating with others and may not start speaking as soon as other children. He or she may not want to make eye contact with other people.

ASD can keep a child from developing social skills. This is in part because a child with ASD may not be able to interpret facial expressions or emotions in other people. A child with ASD may:

  • Not want to be touched
  • Want to play alone
  • Not want to change routines

A child with ASD may also repeat movements. This might be flapping his or her hands or rocking. He or she may also have unusual attachments to objects. However, a child with ASD may also do certain mental tasks very well. For example, the child may be able to count or measure better than other children. Children with ASD may do well in art or music, or be able to remember certain things very well.