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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 126-134

A study of neurological soft signs and potential psychiatric comorbidities in children with specific learning disorders

Department of Psychiatry, Topiwala National Medical College and B.Y.L. Nair Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sayantani Mukherjee
A1-707, Runwal Seagull Township, Handewadi Road, Hadapsar, Pune - 411 028, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aip.aip_81_19

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Context: Children with specific learning disorders (SLD) are often observed with neurological soft signs (NSS) and adjunctive emotional/behavioral symptoms. Aims: This study attempts to quantify both NSS and subclinical psychiatric comorbidities in known SLD cases. Statistically relevant data, if generated, would provide clinicians with a clearer picture and further a more well-rounded treatment plan. Settings and Design: The study was observational, cross-sectional, and quantitative, conducted in learning disability clinic attached to a child psychiatry outpatient department in a public-sector tertiary-care teaching hospital in urban India. One hundred and sixty children of age 7–18 years fitting inclusion criteria were enrolled after appropriate consent/assent. Subjects and Methods: A sociodemographic data pro forma, and two scales, the child behavior checklist and Physical and Neurological Examination for Subtle Signs – Revised (PANESS-R), were used. A single-setting interview was conducted, data collected and statistically analyzed. Statistical Analysis: It was done by a qualified statistician using SPSS-16 software. Results: 36.25% had “total” psychopathology, 41.875% “internalizing problem,” and 30% “externalizing problem,” which were associated with poor interpersonal relations, more physical discipline, and “overflow” component of NSS. On PANESS-R, repetitive speed of movement was the most common. More NSS were found in younger age groups, boys and in association with perinatal maternal age of below 20 and above 30 years. Countering previous findings, right-handed children had high incidence of mixed handedness. Conclusions: We recommend routine screening for NSS and psychopathology in SLD children as these may complicate treatment outcome with secondary psychological/neurodevelopmental issues. Prompt detection and appropriate management might redress them more holistically.

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