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Pervasive developmental disorder
The diagnostic category pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) refers to a
group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of multiple
basic functions including socialization and communication. Parents may note
symptoms as early as infancy and typically onset is prior to 3 years of age.
Symptoms may include communication problems such as
* using and understanding language;
* difficulty relating to people, objects, and events;
* unusual play with toys and other objects;
* difficulty with changes in routine or familiar surroundings, and
* repetitive body movements or behavior patterns.
Autism (a developmental brain disorder characterized by impaired social
interaction and communication skills, and limited range of activities and
interests) is the most characteristic and best studied PDD.
Other types of PDD include Asperger's syndrome, childhood disintegrative
disorder, Rett's syndrome, and PDD not otherwise specified. Children with
PDD vary widely in abilities, intelligence, and behaviors. Some children do
not speak at all, others speak in limited phrases or conversations, and some
have relatively normal language development. Repetitive play skills and
limited social skills are generally evident as well. Unusual responses to
sensory information - loud noises, lights - are also common.
Is there any treatment?
There is no known cure for PDD. Medications are used to address certain
behavioral problems; therapy for children with PDD should be specialized
according to the child's specific needs. Some children with PDD benefit from
specialized classrooms in which the class size is small and instruction is
given on a one-to-one basis. Others function well in standard special
education classes or regular classes with support.
What is the prognosis?
Early intervention including appropriate and specialized educational
programs and support services plays a critical role in improving the outcome
of individuals with PDD. PDD is not fatal and does not affect normal life expectancy.