Skip to main content

Child Assessment Service


[GRAPHICAL VERSION] [繁體版] [簡体版] [SEARCH] [SITE MAP] [CONTACT US] A A A


Health Promotion

Main Content

Main Content

Childhood Developmental Disorders

When parents detect anomalies in their children's development, it is important for them to seek professional assistance, understand the children's difficulties, and approach the problems in a positive manner.

  1. Hearing Impairment
  2. Visual Impairment
  3. Cerebral Palsy
  4. Autistic Spectrum Disorders
  5. Dyslexia
  6. Mental Retardation & Developmental delay
  7. Language Delay
  8. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  9. Development Co-ordination Disorder
  10. Anxiety Disorder

1. Hearing Impairment (HI)is defined as a hearing threshold of worse than 40dB in the better ear, irrespective of the nature of hearing loss. This will likely lead to problems in listening, speech and language development, learning and self-esteem, if appropriate interventions are not provided.

Common presenting features include:

  • Poor response to environmental sounds
  • No response when being spoken to from behind
  • Looking intensively at the speaker’s face and mouth when listening
  • Misunderstanding of verbal commands and frequently asking for repetition
  • Severe language and articulation problems
  • Setting television to excessively high volumes
Information
Basic Facts - Childhood Developmental Problems Series (I)
Suggestion / Tips for parents Childhood Developmental Problems Series (II) (Fact Sheet)
Basic Facts
(Text version)
Suggestion /
Tips for parents
(Text version)
[Hearing Impairment]

2.Visual Impairment (VI) Visual acuity and visual field measurements are currently used as visual parameters of visual function in VI. Visual impairment can range from being mild to severe, to complete blindness. Around two thirds of patients with visual impairment have multiple problems including cerebral palsy, epilepsy, mental retardation and/or hearing impairment.

Common presenting features include:

  • Behavioural signs of visual impairment such as head tilt, eye poking, poor eye contact, eccentric viewing (abnormal head posturing when looking) and holding objects close to the eyes.
  • Physical signs such as strabismus, nystagmus, leukokoria or microphthalmia.
Information
Basic Facts - Childhood Developmental Problems Series (I)
Suggestion / Tips for parents Childhood Developmental Problems Series (II) (Fact Sheet)
Basic Facts
(Text version)
Suggestion /
Tips for parents
(Text version)
[Visual Impairment]

3.Cerebral Palsy is a neurological condition that is caused by irreversible, non-progressive damage to the developing brain before, during or after birth. Children with cerebral palsy have significant problems with controlling movement and posture, and abnormalities of muscle tone, leading to contractures and deformities. There are different types of cerebral palsy including spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic and mixed types. These children may also have seizures, problems with eating, breathing, sleeping, speech production, visual and hearing impairment, learning difficulties and mental retardation.

Common presenting features include:

  • Delayed motor milestones
  • Persistent primitive reflexes
  • Spasticity or marked hypotonia
  • Abnormal gait
  • Early hand dominance (before 12 months of age)
Information
Basic Facts - Childhood Developmental Problems Series (I)
Suggestion / Tips for parents Childhood Developmental Problems Series (II) (Fact Sheet)
Basic Facts
(Text version)
Suggestion /
Tips for parents
(Text version)
[Cerebral Palsy]

4. Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a behavioural syndrome characterized by qualitative abnormalities in reciprocal social interactions and in patterns of communication, and by a restricted, stereotyped, repetitive repertoire of interests and activities. Disturbance in at least one of these areas must be manifest prior to age three years.

Common presenting features include:

  • Impairment in social interaction including poor eye contact, poor response when name called, lack of spontaneous sharing of enjoyment or showing objects of interest to others, poor reciprocal social and emotional response and failure to develop appropriate peer relationships.
  • Poor communication and language development including delay in verbal language that is not compensated through other means such as gestures, persistently echoing what others say, inability to sustain conversation or abnormal use of language. Poor symbolic, make-believe and social imitative play, such as playing with toy cooking sets, or acting out an imaginative family or classroom scenarios.
  • Stereotyped, repetitive behaviour and narrow interests such as in road maps or numbers that are abnormal in content and focus, persistent preoccupation with parts of objects like wheels of toy cars; and inflexible adherence to specific, non-functional routines or rituals such as insistence on a same route or taking a certain bus ride everyday.
  • Symptoms may be accompanied or modified by features of global delay/ mental retardation, which may also be present in some children with ASD.
Information
Basic Facts - Childhood Developmental Problems Series (I)
Suggestion / Tips for parents Childhood Developmental Problems Series (II) (Fact Sheet)
Basic Facts
(Text version)
Suggestion /
Tips for parents
(Text version)
[Autistic Spectrum Disorder]

5. Dyslexia is the commonest type of specific learning disability (SLD). Children with dyslexia have difficulties in word reading, writing to dictation or spelling. It is not the direct result of mental retardation, visual or hearing impairment, environmental factors, inadequate educational opportunities, or social/emotional problems.

Common presenting features include:

  • Pre-schoolers with developmental language problems, emerging difficulties in letter and word/character recognition, copying and dictation, but with satisfactory development in other areas.
  • School age children with reading, writing and spelling difficulties. They show unexpected discrepancy between their satisfactory general intelligence and low achievement in school. Other SLD problems, while not being part of dyslexia per se, may occur in these children, including difficulties in listening, speaking, mathematics and motor coordination.
Information
Basic Facts - Childhood Developmental Problems Series (I)
Suggestion / Tips for parents Childhood Developmental Problems Series (II) (Fact Sheet)
Basic Facts
(Text version)
Suggestion /
Tips for parents
(Text version)
[Dyslexia]

6. Developmental Delay is a term that is commonly applied to the preschool child whose developmental levels are substantially behind the average expectations of children of the same age across all domains of development.

Mental Retardation refers to a condition in which intellectual and concurrent adaptive functioning are significantly below average.

Common presenting features include:

  • Pre-schoolers with delayed developmental milestones noted in different areas at the same time. For example:

    6m     head lag, no reaching out

    12m      cannot stand with support, no pincer grasp

    18m      cannot walk alone

    24m      no single words, cannot follow situational commands

    30m      cannot scribble, no short phrases

    36m      unable to speak simple sentences, cannot identify basic shapes and colours

  • School age children with significantly below average intelligence manifested by overall impairments in cognitive, language, motor and social skills, with resultant delay in abilities for learning and communication, and in skills for activities of daily living and self-care.
Information
Basic Facts - Childhood Developmental Problems Series (I)
Suggestion / Tips for parents Childhood Developmental Problems Series (II) (Fact Sheet)
Basic Facts
(Text version)
Suggestion /
Tips for parents
(Text version)
[Developmental Delay]

7. Language Delay refers to significant impairment in spoken language ability that interferes with activities of daily living, learning and social communication. There is no obvious accompanying condition such as mental retardation, neurological damage or hearing impairment. Persistent language impairment is commonly associated with dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and developmental coordination disorder.

Common presenting features include:

  • Pre-schoolers with delay in verbal comprehension and expression or both, such as not comprehending situational verbal commands or no single words by 2 years, or inability to speak in sentences by 3 years, with apparently normal development in other aspects.
  • School age children with weakness in verbal comprehension and/or expression and normal intelligence. They may appear inattentive because they cannot understand daily conversation or follow a series of instructions. They may have difficulty in conveying messages or reporting events. Word finding problems and poor organization are common in their speech. Those with coexisting learning and behavioral problems will particularly benefit from multidisciplinary assessment.
Information
Basic Facts - Childhood Developmental Problems Series (I)
Suggestion / Tips for parents Childhood Developmental Problems Series (II) (Fact Sheet)
Basic Facts
(Text version)
Suggestion /
Tips for parents
(Text version)
[Language Delay]

8. Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is a disability of neurobiological origin that interferes with a person’s ability to sustain attention, focus on a task or inhibit impulsive behavior. It is characterized by developmentally inappropriate attention skills, impulsivity and hyperactivity that are maladaptive, persistent and present across different settings. AD/HD is not a type of specific learning disability although they may occur in the same child. Other co-existing problems may include motor in-coordination and emotional disorders.

Common presenting features include:

  • Excessive complaints by parents, teachers and child-minders that these children cannot concentrate, follow instructions, complete tasks, are disorganized and easily distractible. They may be excessively active and present with disruptive behaviour. They are often prone to accidents and frequently in disciplinary trouble because of unthinking breaches of rules. They often have social difficulties and may become isolated by other children.
  • Symptoms that cause impairment usually have an early onset during the pre-school period, although many individuals are diagnosed after the symptoms have been present for a number of years.
Information
Basic Facts - Childhood Developmental Problems Series (I)
Suggestion / Tips for parents Childhood Developmental Problems Series (II) (Fact Sheet)
Basic Facts
(Text version)
Suggestion /
Tips for parents
(Text version)
[Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder]
[Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder]

9. Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a motor skill disorder that affects about 5% of school age children. These children lack the motor coordination necessary to perform daily tasks that are considered to be appropriate for their age and intellectual ability, in the absence of other neurological disorders. This lack of motor coordination leads to significant interference with academic achievements and activities of daily living. As a result, these children face frequent frustrations in performing daily tasks, and social difficulties at school and play. DCD commonly co-exists with a variety of other developmental problems including attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia.

Common presenting features include:

  • Pre-schoolers with slower mastery of gross motor skills such as managing stairs, and fine motor skills and coordination in self-care functions such as feeding and in play. Children with history of prematurity and/or low birth weight are at higher risk. However, DCD is difficult to diagnose in the early preschool age.
  • School age children with significant difficulties in
    • self-care tasks such as dressing, using utensils, managing tidiness
    • academic tasks such as writing, copying, organizing homework, participating in physical education, especially gymnastics classes
    • leisure activities such as sports and playground activities
  • Information
    Basic Facts - Childhood Developmental Problems Series (I)
    Suggestion / Tips for parents Childhood Developmental Problems Series (II) (Fact Sheet)
    Basic Facts
    (Text version)
    Suggestion /
    Tips for parents
    (Text version)
    [Developmental Corrdination Disorder]

    10. Anxiety Disorders We all feel anxious at some points in our lives when we face stress and danger. When this state of uneasiness becomes excessive and unreasonable, and impairs academic, occupational functioning, social relationship or normal routines, it becomes a disorder.

    There are different kinds of anxiety disorders, such as Social Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Panic Disorder.

    The anxiety problems and disorders may be found in both adults and children, though the symptom manifestations may be different

    Common presenting features:

    It is normal for children to show different kinds of anxiety and fear at different ages. For example, it is quite common for toddlers to demonstrate separation anxiety when they are taken away from parents or caregivers. School-age children may show fear of darkness, monsters or ghost stories.

    In most cases, the fear and anxiety change or disappear with age. When the distress is significant and causes marked impairments to a child’s daily functioning, psychological assessment and treatment are needed.

    Information
    Basic Facts - Childhood Developmental Problems Series (I)
    Suggestion / Tips for parents Childhood Developmental Problems Series (II) (Fact Sheet)
    Basic Facts
    (Text version)
    Suggestion /
    Tips for parents
    (Text version)
    [Anxiety Disorder]

    [Home] [What's new] [Service History] [Scope of Service] [Centre Information] [Information for New Registration] [Growth and Development] [Developmental Disorders] [Professional Development] [ Related Websites] [Campaigns & Events] [Q&A]


    [GovHK] [Brand Hong Kong - Asia's world city] [Explanation of WCAG 2.0 Level Double-A Conformance]


    2009 copyright | Important notice

    Last revision date: 11 July 2014