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Posted at: Mar 10, 2018, 2:44 AM; last updated: Mar 10, 2018, 2:44 AM (IST)WELLNESS

Make a mental note

Fidgety concentration, frequent spelling errors and limited attention span may indicate an underlying developmental problem in a child. Parents should recognise that it is a medical issue that needs attention
Make a mental note
Around 13 million Indians suffer from autistic behaviour. An autistic child’s family and a psychologist can play an important role for the child to get well. Early diagnosis can result in such kids leading a normal life.

Dr Rajendra P Shetty

It is a common practice for most new parents to get anxious about the health of their newborn. There are various markers that can tell them about the well-being of their baby. The only ways infants usually communicate are through their cackles or crying. 

However, certain signs may indicate that you need to pay special attention to your child. Frequent errors, fidgety concentration, frequent spelling errors and limited attention span are one of many symptoms that may indicate an underlying developmental problem. 

All five senses of the body need to be in coordination for good reading and writing. A child with visual and auditory impairments can have poor comprehension, including about language. It may even be an indication of some mental illness. 

Parents should recognise and understand that it is a medical problem and not a stigma. Parents, who have acknowledged and faced such problems in their kids, have given a new lease of hope to their children as most of these problems are treatable with cognitive therapies and exercises. In case parents notice something amiss about their child, they should remain vigilant, as different responses can be indicative of different abnormalities. 

Fluctuating attention and 

distracted child: ADHD syndrome 

Reading and writing signify the complex cerebral ability of the brain. To develop the ability to read and write, good coordination is needed between brain and nervous system.  There can be various issues ranging from auditory loss to visual difficulties that can lead to the inability to read and write. Although cognitive ability differs with age, there are signs that parents can be aware of. 

Children affected with disorders like dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), auditory processing disorder (APD) etc are initially perceived as “lazy” and not working hard enough. Parents usually misconstrue the malfunctioning cognitive abilities of the child and believe that their child is being troublesome and does not want to study. 

However, the reality is that children with dyslexia cannot process the alphabets. The inability to differentiate between a “d” and a “b” are some of the common signs. Their mind processes written/printed differently. If this goes undetected and untreated, the child may grow up into resentful, anxious irritable and even a violent adult. There are many psychological implications on the child that get reflected as he/she grows up. 

Wobbly and gooey eyes: 

Paediatric cataract 

A healthy eye dilates in response to darkness or light as the pupils increase and decrease with the amount of light that enters the eye. If your child squints, he/she may be suffering from paediatric cataract or eye infection. Some of the symptoms include — if a child has wobbly eyes. Parents should immediately consult an ophthalmologist,  specially someone who specialises in paediatric cataract and can effectively treat eye infections. The source of these infections can be due to a change of environment or sudden traumatic injuries that the parents might not be aware of. Due to increased flapping of babies, they might be at a greater risk of eye injuries. Some infants may develop paediatric cataract due to lack of proper nutrition. This is a common problem in underdeveloped and some developing countries. 

Eye infections can also be caused due to genetic factors. There is also an increased risk of conjunctivitis or pink eye if the infant suffers from some viral infection. The warning signs include a yellow discharge near a baby’s eyes. The child’s eyes might have a gooey discharge and turn into crust in the morning.

Not responding to stimuli: 

autism alert 

Around 1 in 68 kids in India suffers from autism. Parents of autistic kids often go into denial not believing that their child can suffer from autism. The warning signs of autism are fairly easy to spot but ignorance and stigma around the disease can worsen the problem of autistic kids as they become adults. The delay in treatment or therapy also makes them more anti-social than ever and they can often turn violent. If the child does not respond when you call his/her name or toys being shown to them and cuddling, parents should go to a doctor for diagnosis. 

Around 13 million Indians suffer from autistic behaviour. An autistic child’s family and a psychologist can play an important role for the child to get well. It is often misunderstood that an autistic child or adult is devoid of emotion. But early diagnosis can result in such kids leading a normal life. 

According to research in the US, brain stimulation exercises can help restore social behaviour in autistic kids. This can help them greatly in handling their lives after their caretakers are not with them. Autistic kids should especially be educated since teaching them independence is important. Usually, mothers are main caregivers for autistic child. However, many studies point out that a mother with autistic child also suffers from depression. Hence, it is important to care for the caregivers. 

Asperger syndrome or high 

functioning autism 

There has been a debate whether Asperger and autism are similar or different. Though the symptoms are relatively same, people with Asperger syndrome have above average intelligence. They are averse to yellow colour. They lack the basic social communication skills though making that out in an infant is relatively difficult. Asperger is often misdiagnosed, as affected children often have normal intelligence. This can provide some parents a platform of denial. But Asperger becomes pronounced as the infant gradually grows. People with Asperger syndrome have an obsession with complex things. Though they lack social communication skills and cannot respond to a hug or a smile, they can lead a completely normal life if there condition is treated. This is a neurological developmental disorder. As they have fairly good cognitive abilities, they can prevent their life from becoming problematic. This largely depends upon their families, as ignorance and denial can always worsen the matter. 

— The writer is paediatrics consultant, Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula

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