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Enhance Your Knowledge of Childhood Disorders

Childhood disorders are diverse and there are different ways to group them or classify them. It takes a lot of study and perseverance to grasp what these different disorders are and differences in their symptoms, aetiology and course. Many behavioural disorders such as conduct disorder continue on into adult life, for example, and are more prevalent in older children than younger ones.

This course examines developmental disorders such as learning disorders, pervasive developmental disorders (e.g. autism spectrum disorder), communication and motor disorders. It also covers behavioural disorders and ADHD which is regarded as a neurodevelopmental disorder. The key thing is that all these problems have onset during childhood development and produce a range of symptoms which cause distress to those afflicted, and often those who care for them. 

Develop Your Career Working With Children 

  • Understand more about the signs, symptoms and treatment available to help children.
  • There are nine lessons covering a range of topics including learning disabilities, autism and Apserger's Syndrome, pervasive developmental disorders, ADHD, conduct disorders, learning disorders and much more.
  • An essential course for anyone working with children with behavioural or learning conditions who wants to learn more. 
Study this course in conjunction with our Child & Adolescent Mental Health course to gain a deep understanding of the range of mental health disorders which can affect young people.


Course Duration: 100 hours.

Start Date: Start at any time - study at a pace that suits you, and with full tutor support for the duration of your studies.

Lessons: The course comprises 9 lessons as detailed, below.
There are nine lessons in this course:

1. Developmental Disorders - Learning Disabilities
  • How to classify Childhood Disorders.
  • What are the causes of Developmental Disorders?
  • Genetic, Physical and Environmental Causes.
  • How to diagnose Developmental Disorders.
  • How common Developmental Disorders are within the General Population.
  • How Developmental Disorders Impact on Families and Children and Adolescents.
  • Learning Disability.
  • Levels of Severity.

2. Autism - Autistic Disorder signs, symptoms, treatment and support
  • What is Autism?
  • The Symptoms and Signs of Autism - Impaired Interactions and Social Development; Communication; Repetitive Behaviour.
  • What are the causes of Autism?
  • History of Autism.
  • How common is Autism within the General Population.
  • The differences in severity and challenges that are experienced by people with autism.
  • Issues Children and Adolescents with Autism need to deal with.
  • The challenges that a family with an Autistic child face.
  • How to treat Children and Adolescents with Autism.
  • How to support a child with Autism.
  • Supportive Services available for children and adolescents with Autism.

3. Asperger's Disorder - signs, symptoms, treatment and support
  • What is Asperger’s Disorder?
  • The Signs and Symptoms of Asperger’s Disorder - Social Interactions; Repetitive Behaviour.
  • What causes of Asperger’s Disorder?
  • The history of Asperger’s Disorder.
  • How common is Asperger’s Disorder within the General Population?
  • Asperger’s Disorder and Autism – The Autism Spectrum.
  • How does Asperger’s Disorder impact on the Child or Adolescent?
  • How does having a child with Asperger’s Disorder impact on the Family?
  • Some Treatments for Children and Adolescents with Asperger’s Disorder.
  • How to Support Children with Asperger’s Disorder?
  • Services Available for Children with Asperger’s Disorder.

4. Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders (Rett's Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Developmental Disorders NOS) signs, symptoms, treatment and support
  • What are Pervasive Developmental Disorders?
  • Rett’s Disorder.
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.
  • Other types of Developmental Disorders.
  • What causes of Developmental Disorders?
  • How Developmental Disorders are diagnosed?
  • How Developmental Disorders impact on a Child or Adolescent.
  • The issues that a Family of the Child or Adolescent with Developmental Disorders face.

5. Attention-Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders - ADHD & variants, signs, symptoms, treatment and support

  • What are the Signs & Symptoms of ADHD? - Features of Inattention; Features of Hyperactivity-Impulsivity; Settings.
  • What are the causes of ADHD?
  • The history of ADHD.
  • How prevalent is ADHD?
  • Treating ADHD.
  • Support Available.
  • Things that may aggravate ADD or ADHD Symptoms.
  • How is a Child or Adolescent affected by ADD and ADHD.
  • How having an ADD or ADHD child will impact on the family.

6. Conduct Disorders (Include oppositional defiant disorder) signs, symptoms, treatment and support
  • What are Conduct Disorders?
  • Some signs and Symptoms of Conduct Disorders.
  • Genetic and Environmental risk factors that cause Conduct Disorders.
  • How prevalent is Conduct Disorders within the General Population.
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
  • Some signs and symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
  • What causes of Oppositional Defiant Disorder?
  • How prevalent is Oppositional Defiant Disorder in the General Population.
  • Anti-Social Personality Disorder (APD).
  • Treatments for Conduct Disorders.
  • Support for Families and Children with Conduct Disorders.
  • The Impact of Conduct Disorders on Children.
  • The Impact on the Family of with a Child that has a Conduct Disorder.
  • Supporting Children with Conduct Disorders.

7. Learning Disorders - focus on academia (Mathematics, Reading Disorder - Dyslexia, etc.) signs, symptoms, treatment and support
  • Specific Developmental Disorders.
  • Definition of Learning Disorders.
  • Reading Disorder (Developmental Dyslexia).
  • Disorder of Written Expression (Specific Spelling Disorder).
  • Mathematics (Arithmetic) Disorder.

8. Communications Disorders & Motor Skills Disorder - focus on speech and language signs, symptoms, treatment and support
  • Definition of Communication Disorders.
  • Causes of Communication Disorders.
  • Phonological Disorder.
  • Expressive Language Disorder.
  • Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder.
  • Stuttering.
  • Motor Skills Disorder.
  • Impact on the Child and Family of Communication Disorders.

9. Special Project (choose something of interest to the student) signs, symptoms, treatment and support.


What Causes Autism?

The cause of autism is complex, and is currently not known for certain. It appears there are many possible contributing factors that cause autism. Whilst different factors can cause a similar pattern of behaviour, the range of possible causes accounts for the diversity in behaviour and treatment efficacy. I.e. whilst two people may both be diagnosed with autism, the autism may have been caused by different factors; the two people may exhibit a similar pattern of behaviours but may also exhibit quite diverse behaviours; and may respond differently to treatments.
There are a number of theories about the cause of autism. Originally autism was thought to be caused by “cold” parenting. As noted earlier, autism was originally described by Kanner, 1943. At that time he considered autism to be caused by abnormal parents. He described these parents as cold, unresponsive, detached, and obsessive. Nowadays, any notions that autism is caused by parenting have been completely overturned.
If a parent does exhibit any unusual psychological traits it is more likely to be in response to the difficulties experienced in rearing a child with autism or an expression of the autistic genes within the parents.
Genetics is the factor most highly implicated in autism. Siblings of those with autism are some fifty times more likely to have autism than the general population and this rate is increased further for identical twins. Much research has focused on identifying a gene responsible for autism. Different studies have suggested the involvement of different genes, though as yet there remains little consensus. As the causes of autism are more intensively researched, the strength of the theory that genetics cause autism has reduced as other contributing factors have been identified. Whilst it is generally thought that there is a genetic component to autism, and some people may be predisposed to developing autism, genetics alone does not explain the whole picture. Even taking into account the more accurate diagnosis of autism over the last 30 or so years, autism has been increasing significantly. Genetics alone could not account for this increase.
It has been suggested that a lack of nutrients and an increase in toxins interact with genetic weaknesses to produce autism. Here are some examples of nutrients that studies have suggested if they are lacking may contribute to autism:
  • Omega-3
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Folate
Others hypothesise that exposure to pathogens or toxins may contribute to the development of autism. Like most studies in autism, some suggest a link, and others don’t. Some examples of pathogens and toxins that may be factors in autism are:
  • Viral infection after birth
  • Heavy Metal toxicity, such as lead and mercury poisoning
  • Viral infections
Many children with autism also have persistent gastrointestinal tract problems, leading to a theory that this may contribute to autism.
Children with autism are often found to have increased prenatal and perinatal complications, however this may be a result of abnormalities, rather than the cause.
Some people theorise that maternal stress while the baby is in the womb may contribute to autism. Autistic children are also found to be more affected by stressful events than non-autistic children.
There may also be a biological basis for autism. Fragile X syndrome has been implicated in around 1 in 10 to 3 in ten of cases but again the evidence is inconclusive.
It was also thought that vaccinations, particularly MMR brought on autism, as autism was often diagnosed around the same age as vaccinations were given. There was significant controversy around this idea, and this theory is now thought to be disproven.  
Many behavioural and learning disorders can arise during childhood.
This course will improve your knowledge of developmental and behavioural conditions in children and enable you to provide better support.


Benefits of Studying This Course

This course enhances the students knowledge and awareness of developmental, learning and behavioural disorders in children. Studying this course will help students to make sense of disorders in these groups through their presenting features as well as to become aware of what types of treatment options are available.

It is a must-do course for people who are working in any of the following areas:

• Youth work
• Child and adolescent counselling
• School counselling
• Teaching
• Child psychology
• Caring roles
• Youth coaching



If you have any questions, please do get in touch with us - connect with our expert tutors, use our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE.

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Understand developmental and behavioural disorders which can affect children.


Developmental disorders include autism spectrum disorder and other conditions which become apparent in early childhood. Learning disorders are a specific type of developmental disorder and usually only affect one area of learning such as reading, writing or arithmetic. Behavioural disorders are those where symptoms are pronounced through disruptive, inattentive or aggressive acts. Each present difficulties for the child, their family and others they come into contact with.     

Study this course to:

  • Learn about signs, symptoms and treatments for these different groups of disorders in children.
  • Learn about how to differentiate particular disorders from these different groups of disorders.
  • Study possible routes for support for a wide range of disorders.





Meet some of our academics

Tracey Jones (psychology)B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), DipSW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Learning Disability Studies) Tracey began studying psychology in 1990. She has a wide range of experience within the psychology and social work field, particularly working with people with learning disabilities. She is also qualified as a teacher and now teaches psychology and social work related subjects. She has been a book reviewer for the British Journal of Social Work and has also written many textbooks, blogs, articles and ebooks on psychology, writing, sociology, child development and more. She has had also several short stories published.
Miriam ter BorgPsychologist, Youth Worker, Teacher, Author and Natural Therapist. Miriam was previously an Outdoor Pursuits Instructor, Youth Worker, Surfing College Program Coordinator, Massage Therapist, Business Owner/Manager. Miriam's qualifications include B.Sc.(Psych), DipRem.Massage, Cert Ourdoor Rec.
Gavin Cole B.Sc.,M.Psych.Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Gavin has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. He has co-authored several psychology text books and many courses including diploma and degree level courses in psychology and counselling. Gavin joined ACS in 2001.

Check out our eBooks

Psychology DictionaryThis book provides explanations for common terms used in Psychology.
Counselling HandbookA book for both students, as well as volunteers who may be involved in helping people with problems. This is a starting point for understanding counselling, and a reference for developing counselling skills. The book contains seven chapters: 1. Where can counselling be used 2. How to see behind the mask 3. Emotions and attitudes 4. How to communicate better when all you have is words 5. Theory versus practice 6. Diffusing difficult situations 7. Golden rules or tips
How Children ThinkAnyone who has ever tried to make a child do anything (clean up their mess, desist from throwing mud, stop drawing on the walls) knows that children think differently to adults. This book attempts to provide the skills and knowledge to develop a greater understanding of children.
The Environment of PlayFull of inspiring colour images of playgrounds around the world, this book is ideal for designers, park managers, schools and parents! First published in the USA in 1982. Used in the past as a university text (in landscaping and education degrees). Completely revised in 2012. Full of inspiring colour images of playgrounds around the world, this book is ideal for designers, park managers, schools and parents! Play is the most important and effective method of learning for adults as well as children. It can be active or passive, planned or spontaneous. If you want to learn about the relationship between PLAY and the ENVIRONMENT, this is the ebook for you.