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Childhood Mental Health: Pervasive Developmental Disorders


The diagnostic category pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) refers to a group of disorders characterised by delays in the development of multiple basic functions including socialisation and communication. Parents may note symptoms as early as infancy and typically onset is before 3 years of age.
The most common PDDs include autism , Asperger's syndrome , childhood disintegrative disorder , Rett's syndrome , and PDD not otherwise specified .

Symptoms and Signs

Symptoms may include:

  • Communication problems . For example in the use and comprehension of language.
  • Difficulty relating to people , objects, and events
  • Unusual play with toys and other objects
  • Difficulty with changes in routine or familiar surroundings
  • Repetitive body movements or behaviour patterns.

Children with PDD vary widely in abilities, intelligence, and behaviours. 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.

Diagnosis and Treatment

There is no known cure for PDD. Medications are used to address certain behavioural problems. Therapy for children with PDD should be specialised according to the child's specific needs. Some children with PDD benefit from specialised 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.
Early intervention including appropriate and specialised 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.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):

1. The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Fact Sheet:

Other HON resources 
   From MedHunt

Pervasive Developmental Disorders
Asperger's syndrome
Rett's syndrome
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
    From HONselect
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Child Development Disorders, Pervasive
Asperger Syndrome
Rett Syndrome

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Child Development Disorders, Pervasive
Asperger Syndrome
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Contact Last modified: Oct 20 2004