There are several forms of ALD. Not every person who carriers the genetic fault will develop any symptoms and even within families people may develop different forms of the disease.
Childhood cerebral form - boys usually develop normally until they reach between four to ten years of age when behavioural changes, such as loss of memory and emotional instability may be experienced often appearing first as school difficulties. The condition progresses with vision, hearing and movement problems. The adrenal glands may fail (see entry Addison's disease). There is continuous progressive deterioration of the nervous system in the cerebral form of ALD. The rate of deterioration varies in each child.
Adolescent/adult cerebral form - similar difficulties occur in a smaller number of teenagers and adults and may be mistaken initially as psychiatric problems
Adrenomyeloneuropathy/myeloneuropathy (AMN) - a different form of ALD may occur in men or women during late adolescence, or early adult life. It causes difficulty with walking and bladder function and may be misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis. Adrenal function is often affected, although not in women.
Neonatal ALD - despite the similar name, has a completely separate genetic cause and has more severe problems with brain development, vision, hearing and epilepsy.