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Neurological conditions
The human brain

Neurological conditions are caused by non-typical development of the brain, the spinal cord or the nervous system.

Conditions of the brain can be caused either by brain damage or by subtle genetic programming faults that affect brain development.

Neurological conditions can have far-reaching consequences for cognitive development. They can be mild or severe and usually persist for life.

Common neurological conditions

Common neurological conditions include:

  • Asperger syndrome
  • Autistic spectrum disorder
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dyspraxia or Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)
  • Epilepsy
  • Foetal alcohol spectrum disease (FAS)
  • Tourette syndrome.

These, and neurological conditions caused by premature birth and illegal drugs, are discussed in more detail in the rest of this module.

Co-existing conditions
Teacher showing pupils a book

Some conditions often occur together. For instance ADHD and dyspraxia/DCD are conditions that have been shown to be more likely to co-occur with other conditions than to be present on their own.

Diagnosing developmental conditions

As yet, there are no biological markers for most developmental conditions, so diagnosis depends on observations and analysis of behaviour. The assessment tools used by educational psychologists and others are being improved continually. There is debate however regarding some conditions and some academics and psychologists argue that some conditions are labels that our culture uses to explain normal individual differences in behaviour.

Consider the children in your school, talk to the teacher of a special school class or talk to the school SENCO.

What percentage of children are diagnosed common neurological conditions? How many of them have more than one diagnosis?


Listen to Ali, the mother of Jade, who has Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), talking about the range of diagnoses that Jade has.

You will learn more about FAS and hear more about Jade later in this module.

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