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What Is A Cognitive Disorder?
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What is A Cognitive Disorder?

Malnutrition, heavy metal poisoning, parasites, illness, and neglect all set the child up for cognitive disorders of one kind or another. Metabolic and chromosomal abnormalities also set the child up for cognitive disorders. Cognitive disorders are often manifested by behavioral symptoms such as obsessive-compulsiveness, anxieties, fears, mood disorders, and post traumatic stress disorder. Although cognitive disorders are likely to be suspected in children adopted from foreign countries that have a history of institutionalization, they also can be present in industrialized countries.

Cognitive disorders may often not be apparent prior to the age of six or seven in the child with average intellect. Most often the parent notices that the child may not learn from experience and repeat the same errors over and over again. It may be noticed in school work when the child needs to use reasoning ability and begins the age where abstract thinking begins. The child that does not respond to discipline should be suspected of having some sort of disorder that needs investigated. The child may have a cognitive disorder or other mood disorder. The lack of response to discipline usually is apparent around the age of three to four. Kids in the two year old range are expected to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. By the age of three, the child begins to put actions and consequences together. When the child reaches five years of age, the amount of repetitions to learn from their actions should be much less.

Rote memory is much different than what is considered cognitive thinking for looking at disorders. A child may have excellent and intact rote memory as is necessary for memorizing colors and the alphabet; however, may at the same time be unable to put consequence and actions together. Children with cognitive disorders often have very exhausted parents. The parents are exhausted because they keep going over the same things over and over again and the child just doesn’t put the behavioral pieces together. The child tends to think very concretely and has no room for interpretation of events that are not concrete. Instructions must be so clear that there is no chance for error. The child with cognitive disorders may seem to lack a bit of a conscience, but with practice and rote memory for expectations and consequences, sooner or later the child may learn from experiences and develop a conscience for misdeeds.

For example, a child rides a bike down a hill, turns a corner and hits a wall. The parent asks why the child didn’t use the brakes as previously taught. The child says, “Oh”. The child rides a bike down a hill, turns a corner and hits the wall again. The parent asks why the child didn’t use the brakes. The child says, “Oh”. And the exact same scenario repeats itself over and over again. The child may repeat this incident it seems as over fifty times before the child “gets it” and applies the brakes so the wall is not hit. By rote memory, the child knows to stop the bike before hitting the wall, but in practice it is not done. Cognitive deficit is most likely the cause.

Cognitive disorders require diagnosis by a good neuropsychologist. The neuropsychologist will give a treatment plan. During the treatment, or the child’s life, role playing along with repetition, repetition, repetition until the caregivers and parents are past blue in the face is necessary. This treatment can be frustrating for the parent with a cognitively disordered child that has average intelligence, but it is necessary and it does work.


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