Antolini G, Colizzi M. Where Do Neurodevelopmental Disorders Go? Casting the Eye Away from Childhood towards Adulthood. Healthcare. 2023; 11(7):1015. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11071015
Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) encompass a group of complex conditions with onset during the early developmental period. Such disorders are frequently associated with a number of neuropsychiatric features, the most prevalent ones being autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disability, communication and specific learning disorders, and motor disorders.
These conditions are characterized by wide genetic and clinical variability, and although they were previously conceptualized as childhood-limited disorders, NDDs are progressively being recognized as persistent conditions with a potentially relevant impact on the quality of life and overall functioning during adult life. In addition, emerging evidence seems to point towards the hypothesis of a neurodevelopmental continuum, according to which NNDs could portray different time-dependent outcomes, depending on the severity of the altered brain development. Despite representing lifelong phenotypes, they are often not promptly identified and/or managed in adulthood. In this regard, specific guidelines on clinical and therapeutic approaches for these conditions have not yet been delineated.
In this view, future research investigations should be encouraged to broaden available knowledge, characterize the clinical course of NDDs across an individual’s lifespan, and better understand the patterns of aging-related concerns in adults with an NDD diagnosis. Additionally, considering the difficulties many young adults encounter while transitioning from childhood to adult mental health services, new, specific programs should be developed and existing programs should be implemented to improve the transition process and for the management of NDDs in adulthood.