prof gray

 

Prof. Robert H. Gray is an experienced paediatrician who headed the Department of Paediatrics at the University Hospital of the West Indies for many years. His specialty is paediatric neurology. The following are some words of wisdom put together by Prof. Gray throughout his distinguished medical career. Read more about the Prof. here.

WHAT IS INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY

Intellectual disability, until recently referred to as mental retardation, is a condition which originates during the developmental period (conception to age 18 years) and results in significantly below average intelligence and failure of development of adaptive skills (functional life skills). Developmental delay is another term that is often used to descrtibe this condition but its use should be confined to infants and young children less than 5 years old when the diagnosis is uncertain.

HOW COMMON ARE HEADACHES IN CHILDREN?

Headache is a common complaint in children. Up to 1/3 of children will have complained of headache by their seventh birthday and about 2/3 of them by age fourteen years. The commonest causes of occasional headaches include illness with fever and a minor blow on the head.

WHAT IS EPILEPSY?

Epilepsy is a condition where a person has unprovoked recurrent seizures or ‘fits’. A seizure results from a sudden excessive discharge of electrical activity from the brain. A seizure has also been likened to an “electrical storm” within the brain.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF DELAYED SPEECH?

  1. Hearing impairment should always be considered as a cause of speech delay, since early detection leads to early intervention with the application of hearing aids, placement in special education and training in other methods of communication such as sign language. Hearing impairment may result from a number of genetic and acquired disorders.

  2. Intellectual disability, previously referred to as mental retardation, is the commonest cause of delayed speech development. It may be the result of abnormal brain development or a variety of insults to the brain during the prenatal period, birth or infancy.

  3. Developmental speech delay, which is an uncommon disorder due to delayed maturation of the areas of the brain concerned with the processing of sound.

  4. Autism, a disorder characterized by abnormal social interaction, poor communication skills and stereotyped behaviours (restricted, repetitive movements), usually presents with delayed speech. Autism, the incidence of which has markedly increased in recent years, may result from a number of recognized genetic and acquired brain diseases, but the underlying cause remains undetermined in many instances.

WHAT IS CEREBRAL PALSY?

Cerebral (derived from the brain) palsy (weakness) is a condition where there is a persistent disorder of movement and posture that is due to a non-progressive defect or damaged area in the immature (prenatal period through age 4 years) brain.

Cerebral palsy is not a disease entity but a clinical condition that fulfils the above criteria.

Cerebral palsy may be accompanied by but does not cause other types of brain dysfunction such as intellectual disability, epilepsy, hearing impairment or visual impairment.

Although cerebral palsy is not a progressive disorder, the clinical picture often changes as the child grows older.

WHAT IS AUTISM?

Autism is a disorder characterized by abnormal social interaction, poor communication skills and stereotyped behaviours (restricted, repetitive movements).

The disorder has varying degrees of severity and is also referred to as autistic spectrum disorder, which includes Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified.

HOW COMMON IS AUTISM?

The prevalence of autism has increased markedly over the past twenty years in both developed and developing countries.