Minimal brain dysfunction

Term used to describe poor educational performance. The name is controversial, because it suggests a brain disorder, which has not yet been shown to be so. In most cases there is no known cause. Some children seem to show normal physical, motor and mental development, but are difficult from birth; they may cry a lot, sleep badly, and be generally hyperactive. When they are older they are abnormally active and restless, and at the same time lack refined motor development. They are excessively sensitive, and prone to outbursts of temper. In school they show poor concentration, and have behaviour problems. Diagnosis is difficult, and a cause can rarely be established. Physical disorders should be eliminated by neurological and general medical tests. At the same time a plan for treatment should be formulated on the basis of psychological examination, observation of behaviour and school evaluation. There is no simple medical solution to the problem; parents, doctors, psychologists and teachers have to work together. The development of this pattern of behaviour is highly dependent on the attitude to the child, and the possibility of finding a suitable form of education. The prognosis is favourable in many cases; symptoms usually decline after puberty.

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