Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Pervasive developmental disorders, most often, can be identified in the early years of a child's life. Children with PDD have difficulty in areas of development or use of functional skills such as language, communication, socialization and motor behaviors.

Examples of PDD include the following:

Autism (autistic disorder).

Asperger's disorder.

Rett's disorder.

Childhood disintegrative disorder (also called disintegrative psychosis).

What causes pervasive developmental disorders?

The specific causes of pervasive developmental disorders are not known. Children with PDD have problems processing information, thus the causes of PDD have something to do with differences in brain function. However, parenting behaviors are not the cause, or even a contributing factor, to the cause or causes of PDD.

Who is affected by pervasive developmental disorders?

Pervasive developmental disorders are very rare. Information regarding how many people have a PDD is inconsistent. Many sources state that for every 10,000 births, five to 20 children are diagnosed with a PDD, including autism. However, other sources state these are very conservative estimates. With the exception of Rett's disorder, a PDD is more frequently found in boys.

Rett's disorder is almost always found in girls.

What are the symptoms of pervasive developmental disorders?

The following are the most common symptoms of some pervasive developmental disorders. However, each child may experience symptoms differently.

How are pervasive developmental disorders diagnosed?

Pervasive developmental disorders are usually identified by the age of 3 years. A child psychiatrist or other mental health professional usually makes the diagnosis of any of the PDD following a comprehensive medical and psychiatric evaluation.

It is important to diagnose PDD early and accurately as some PDD put children at risk for developing other mental disorders (i.e., depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia).

Treatment for pervasive developmental disorders:

Specific treatment for PDD will be determined by your child's physician based on:

Your child's age, overall health and medical history.

Extent of the disorder.

Type of disorder.

Your child's tolerance for specific medications or therapies.

Expectations for the course of the disorder.

Your opinion or preference.

Treatment plans are individualized based on each child's symptoms and the level of severity. Multidisciplinary treatment approaches are utilized as needed to address the individual needs of each child.

Treatment may include:

Speech therapy.

Social skills training (to help children learn to perform activities of daily living, or ADLs and ways to communicate and relate to others).

Behavioral therapy.

Specialized behavioral and educational programs are designed to treat developmental disorders. Behavioral techniques help children learn to behave in more acceptable ways. Parents may be taught behavioral techniques to help them provide consistent rewards and set limits at home. While some children with PDD require specialized classrooms which are highly structured and provide attention to a child's specific academic needs, others are able to function in a regular classroom with less specialized attention.

Medication may be helpful in treating some symptoms of PDD, in some children. Child and adolescent mental health professionals help families identify and participate in treatment and educational programs based on an individual child's treatment and educational needs.

Prevention of pervasive developmental disorders:

Preventive measures to reduce the incidence or severity of any type of PDD are not known at this time. However, it is believed that the level of severity can be improved with early treatment.

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