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What is a neurobehavioral disorder?

“Neurobehavioral disorder” is an umbrella term for a wide range of conditions associated with brain injuries, impairments, or disease. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are considered neurobehavioral conditions. 

These conditions may also be referred to as neurodevelopmental disorders. It is estimated that between 5-20% of the general population have a neurodevelopmental condition. These conditions can affect children and adults.

People with neurobehavioral conditions may also have diseases that affect the central nervous system like dementia, multiple sclerosis.  Some may have experienced either a traumatic or non-traumatic brain injury that causes a change in behavior or brain function.

People who are diagnosed with one neurobehavioral disorder often have overlapping disorders. For example, it’s not uncommon for people with ADHD to also have tic disorders like Tourette’s Syndrome. 

Neurobehavioral disorders can affect a person’s social skills, emotional responses, behavior, and cognition and learning. Most care plans will include the services of a range of medical experts, treatment modalities, and supporting agencies to improve a patient’s outcome.

How are neurobehavioral disorders diagnosed?

If you think you might have a neurobehavioral condition, it’s important to see a doctor who specializes in this area. This could be a family physician, neurologist, or neuropsychiatrist. The criteria for each neurobehavioral disorder is also described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

A complete medical history and current symptoms will be considered when making a diagnosis. For most people, the symptoms related to an underlying neurobehavioral condition are characterized by behavioral, cognitive, or functional changes.

Women talking with a therapist

What are some of the common symptoms of neurobehavioral disorders?

Because there are many neurobehavioral conditions, symptoms can vary. If you notice any of the following patterns of behavior, it may be a sign of a neurobehavioral or neurodevelopmental disorder:

  • Difficulty speaking
  • Poor motor skills – or a regression of skills
  • Changes in behavior 
  • Aggression
  • Challenges learning new skills
  • Reduction in memory retention
  • Lack of motivation

If you see one or more of these symptoms, it’s important to seek the care of your family healthcare provider. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis since some neurobehavioral conditions can be caused by an underlying disease.

What are the causes of neurobehavioral disorders?

We don’t know exactly what causes neurobehavioral disorders in children, adolescents, or adults, unless there is an obvious disease or brain injury. Research suggests

may play a role in whether someone may have an increased risk for a neurodevelopmental disorder. There is even some suggestion that there may be socio-economic causes for these disorders.

What therapies are used to treat neurobehavioral disorders?

Because neurobehavioral disorders are so varied, the treatment plans for these conditions can vary from person to person. Even people with the same diagnosis may require significantly different treatment modalities and support. 

Most people with one or more neurobehavioral disorders will be treated with a combination of therapies. This may include medications and occupational or special education support services. 

You may be asked to take some diagnostic tests. You may be encouraged to talk with a care coordinator about your symptoms and needs.  This ensures your specific experiences are addressed in your customized treatment plan.

At Elite DNA Behavioral Health, we offer evidence-based psychiatric and psychotherapeutic treatments for a variety of neurobehavioral conditions.

How do neurobehavioral conditions affect families?

Living with neurobehavioral disorders can be a challenge for everyone involved. It’s important to support your family member with a neurobehavioral condition, but it’s also important to get support for yourself.

For parents and caregivers, being open to individual therapy or group therapy can improve outcomes all around. Professional counseling can help you develop coping skills that will make it easier to take care of yourself and your family.

Related Conditions to Explore

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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Sleep Disorder

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