In General Knowledge for the Family, Physical & Mental Health

Your Child and Pervasive Developmental Disorder

When it comes to developmental disorders there are a wide range of issues to contend with. Generally, developmental disorders are the hardest to deal with because they often effect children and are easy to detect at a young age. That being said, there is a ton of information out there about pervasive developmental disorders and knowing some of it may help you determine what type of help you need for either you or your loved one.

What is Pervasive Developmental Disorder?

Pervasive Developmental Disorder, or PDDS are disorders that involve the delay of the developments of an individual in regards to many skills that they will need to move on in life. These disorders are most notably linked to social skills that are needed for individuals to function within a larger society. These disorders can affect communication, the use of imagination, and even the ability to socialize with other human beings. These disorders are typically identified in children and are noticed around three years of age when social development goes into overdrive in the average child. Children that are affected by PDDs often will not socialize with other children, adults, and may even have a hard time socializing with their own families.

In most cases, parents can notice these disorders earlier than age three. In the majority of cases however, the symptoms of PDDs manifests in the inability to walk, talk, and other developments that a child of three should have already started to have. The best way that parents can notice that something is wrong is when a child starts missing important milestones that many other children their age are missing. This could indicate that your child is simply behind the curve or it could denote something a bit more serious. If your child is missing important milestones, it is important that you talk with your child’s doctor about possible causes.

What Syndromes or Disorders Fall Into This Category?

There are five basic disorders that are considered to be pervasive developmental disorders. They are as follows, Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood disintegrative disorder, Rett’s Syndrome, and Pervasive Development Disorder not otherwise specified. Looking first at autism, there are differing levels of autism just are there are differing levels of any disorder. A child with autism can be affected so little that they are simply shy or they can be so badly affected that they cannot go out in public because of the stress that it causes them.

Those children with autism often have trouble with social interaction, imagination and pretend play situations, and communication verbally and non verbally. These children can also have a smaller pool of interests or activities that they like to perform. In most cases, three out of four children that are affected with autism have some other form of intellectual disability that makes it difficult for them to go to school and function as other children their age would. Children that have severe autism also often have very low muscle tone and can suffer from seizures. They may also suffer from anxiety and a severe resistance to change of any sort.

Moving now to Asperger’s, much like children with autism, these children have difficulty socializing and interacting with other people. Their range of interest is also very narrow so they may choose one thing and dwell on it for days, weeks, or even years. One difference between disorders is that children with Asperber’s have normal to above average intelligence and develop normally in other areas such as language and metal processes. These children have difficulty concentrating, communicating, and may also suffer from poor coordination. In most cases, Asperger’s is not noticed in children until language skills are forming and they do not have a wide enough range of speech for their age or they suffer from abnormal speech patterns.

The next disorder we should focus on is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. This is a disorder that is rare and involves the disintegration of skills as a child ages. These children start to develop normally in all areas both physical and mental then start to lose the skills that they have acquired. The disorder affects children anywhere from the age of 2 to 10. In most cases, these children will develop normally until the illness begins to make them age backward in a sense. Children may lose social, language and even cognitive skills that they had previously gained naturally through normal growth.

Children with this disorder may not only lose their social and mental abilities but may also lose control of other bodily functions. They can lose control of their bowels, bladder, and other normal processes that they previously had control over. Not all scientists agree that this disorder deserves its own classification and it is often lumped in with the autism spectrum.

The last disorder that falls into this category is pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified. This means any disorder that adversely affects the development of a child that cannot be pegged down or that cannot be labeled as some other type of disorder. This is basically any non classified disorder that affects communication, play, social interaction with others, and any child that is too social to be considered autistic but not social enough to be considered a normally developed child. This type of disorder is somewhat of a catch all for disorders that may not fit into other categories neatly.

Symptoms to Look For

Parents as a general rule are very cautious and overly aware when it comes to their children which is a healthy practice to get into when children are young. However, there are a few different things that you can watch for in regards to these types of developmental disorders that can help you notice them far sooner and begin to get the help that your child needs to be able to function normally in society. In the vast majority of cases children are the ones most affected by these disorders. Though it is possible for a child to go their entire life not knowing they have a PDD, it is very uncommon that an adult is going to be diagnosed with a PDD that they are not already aware of.

Here are some typical symptoms to watch for in your children if you fear they may have a PDD of some sort:

  1. inappropriate or atypical social behavior
  2. difficulty with transitions or changes
  3. repetitive or ritualistic behaviors or actions
  4. increased or decreased sensitivities to taste, touch, sight, smell, or sound
  5. poorly developed speech
  6. uneven skill development in motor, sensory, language, visual, and other pivotal areas
  7. deficits in communication either verbal or non verbal

Though these symptoms do not always point to a disorder of any type, if you notice that your child is suffering from one or many of the symptoms mentioned above you should mention it to your pediatrician. In most cases, a pediatrician will notice any deficits or anomolies during regular office visits and well child checkups which makes the entire process much easier for parents to stomach.

Though every child is different, it is important that if you feel your child is not developing normally, you take the time to talk to a doctor. It may be something as simple as your child just does not know how to express themselves or they are simply shy, but it can also be something more serious. With children, it is always best to err on the side of caution and allow your doctor to check out any abnormal behavior that you are concerned with.


In most cases of PDDs there is no clear cut treatment that can get your child up to par with other children. While there are medications that can help deal with the mood swings and anxiety that are common with these types of disorders, there are not any medications currently available that can help correct the issues that come with PDDs. There are however some different types of therapy and care options that can help make your child’s PDD more manageable.

In children with autism therapy and teaching parents special coping techniques has proven to be very helpful. Also, knowing how to deal with sudden mood swings and anxiety attacks can also make life a bit easier. In most cases, it is far easier for parents when they are open to treatment and daily life changes to help deal with the unique difficulties that pervasive developmental disorders present.

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