5 Childhood Conditions You Can Correct in Adulthood

If you were told you'd "grow out of" or "learn to deal with" a childhood condition that impacted your life (but are still dealing with it), it's not too late to make a change. A number of grownups successfully address their "kid stuff" during their 20s, 30s, and well into their later years. Here are just a few examples:

1. Crossed or Lazy Eye. Many adults with a "wandering eye" were told if they didn't do eye exercises or have surgery during childhood, then their eye troubles would stay with them for life. But many ophthalmic specialists say, it's not so. If your eye problems are caused by weak muscles, then engaging in specific exercise programs to strengthen those muscles might be effective even during adulthood. If those muscles require surgical repair, that surgery can be performed successfully on adults as well as children. See an ophthalmologist and find out how new technologies and techniques may be able to correct your eye problems.

2. Speech Disorders. Experts used to think the only way to address stuttering, lisps, and other speech disorders was to tackle them during childhood when speech patterns were being formed. Now they know that speech disorders can be successfully corrected or improved during adulthood. Customized speech training programs address specific issues. Some problems, like lisping might require only a few speech-training sessions, while others, like stuttering may need longer, more intensive programs. Ask your doctor to refer you to a speech pathologist who specializes in your problem. 

3. Learning and Behavior Disorders. Attention Deficit Disorder and Dyslexia don't only affect the very young. Many people who've lived with these disorders for decades (which impact learning, reading, and all kinds of employment and professional skills) only have them correctly diagnosed when they're adults. They may have grown up thinking they just can't sit still or they're just slow readers, when in fact, they may have a chemical imbalance or neurologic disorder that accounts for their difficulties.  ADD can be treated with prescriptions, adaptive techniques and behavioral therapies.  Dyslexia is being successfully addressed in intensive reading programs designed for adults. Start with your physician and ask for information about therapists and treatment options appropriate for your condition.

4. Crooked Teeth. Maybe their families couldn't afford braces during their childhood or maybe their dentist is recommending them to address specific dental issues, but having teeth straightened during adulthood is becoming increasingly popular. While no one is eager to undergo years of metal brackets, new orthodontic techniques make it faster and easier for adults to achieve straight teeth. And some options make braces nearly invisible. The benefits of having straight teeth aren't just cosmetic either. Adults are finding that having their crooked teeth realigned improves dental hygiene, jaw pain, and headaches-boosts their confidence as well. 

5. Bad Habits. Lots of adults twirl their hair, bite their nails, or engage in other "bad habits" of childhood. These habits usually serve to release nervous energy, soothe jangled nerves, or help focus attention. Fortunately, there are plenty of techniques available through behavioral or mental health therapists, hypnotherapists, bookstores, and websites to retrain, redirect or eliminate these habits for good

Heather Weldon, MD, reviewed this article.