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Addressing Mental Health Needs for Children with Neurodevelopmental Conditions

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Background: Neurodevelopmental conditions, including autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities, begin very early in a child’s life and are associated with characteristic challenges in daily living. Many children and their families also face concurrent mental disorders when coping with these challenges. We conducted a systematic review to provide accurate prevalence estimate on common mental disorders for children with neurodevelopmental conditions and effective psychosocial treatment for these disorders.

Method: Applying systematic review methods, we selected the seven most rigorous systematic reviews to derive prevalence estimates. We then identified 20 randomized control trials assessing interventions for mental health concerns facing children with neurodevelopmental conditions.

Results: We found anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant and conduct disorders, and depression were much more prevalent among children with neurodevelopmental conditions. We also found several effective treatments for mental health concerns for children with neurodevelopmental conditions, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy for anxiety, parent training for behavioural challenges, and social skills training.

Conclusion: The results of this systematic review can be applied to support children with neurodevelopmental conditions. This includes providing these children with timely treatments so they can flourish.
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