Neurodevelopmental disorders and youth mental health

Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDs) are a collection of conditions that have three features in common:

1. they are first seen in infancy or early childhood

2. brain development is disturbed

3. they are stable and do not show episodes of worsening or improving.

Definitions vary but NDs can include impaired motor, learning, language, non‑verbal communication and/or sensory functions. The most prevalent NDs are attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability. It is common for young people who have these conditions to seek help for comorbid mental health problems, including depression or anxiety.

This fact sheet can assist professionals and support workers who work in the youth mental health field to:

1. understand the nature and impact of three common comorbid neurodevelopmental conditions

2. suggest useful resources that assist in working with young people with these conditions

3. suggest other sources of support available