What are the Symptoms, Types and Treatments of Pervasive Developmental Disorders?

CME WebsitesChild Development, Special Needs Diagnoses

What are Pervasive Developmental Disorders?

The diagnostic category of pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) refers to a group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills.

Symptoms of Pervasive Developmental Disorder

Parents may note symptoms as early as infancy, although the typical age of onset is before 3 years of age. Symptoms may include:

  • Problems with 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
  • Repetitive body movements or behavior patterns.

What are the specific types of PDD?

Autism (a developmental brain disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication skills, and a limited range of activities and interests) is the most characteristic and best studied pervasive developmental disorders.

Other types of PDD include Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Rett Syndrome.

Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders 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. Unusual responses to sensory information, such as loud noises and lights, are also common.

Treatment of PDD

There is no known cure for pervasive developmental disorders. Medications are used to address specific behavioral problems; therapy for children with PDD should be specialized according to need. 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 additional support.

Learn more about the Sensory Challenges of PDD-NOS.

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 pervasive developmental disorders. PDD is not fatal and does not affect normal life expectancy.

Where Can I Get More Information?

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Special Education Programs
P.O. Box 1492
Washington, DC 20013-1492
Phone 800-695-0285
Fax 202-884-8441
E-mail nichcy@aed.org
Website: http://www.nichcy.org

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Information Clearinghouse
1 Communication Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20892-3456
Phone 800-241-1044
800-241-1055 (TTD/TTY)
E-mail nidcdinfo@nidcd.nih.gov
Website: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov

MAAP Services for Autism, Asperger’s, and PDD
P.O. Box 524
Crown Point, IN 46308
Phone 219-662-1311
Fax 219-662-0638
E-mail info@maapservices.org
Website: http://www.maapservices.org

Autism Research Institute (ARI)
4182 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA 92116
Phone 619-281-7165
Fax 619-563-6840
E-mail director@autism.com
Website: http://www.autismresearchinstitute.com
National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
P.O. Box 1968
(55 Kenosia Avenue)
Danbury, CT 06813-1968
Phone 203-744-0100
Voice Mail: 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax 203-798-2291
E-mail orphan@rarediseases.org
Website: http://www.rarediseases.org

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
6001 Executive Blvd. Rm. 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
Phone 301-443-4513
866-615-NIMH (6464)
301-443-8431 (TTY)
Fax 301-443-4279
E-mail nimhinfo@nih.gov
Website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov

National Institute of Child Health and Human Information Resource Center
P.O. Box 3006
Rockville, MD 20847
Phone 800-370-2943
888-320-6942 (TTY)
Fax 301-984-1473
E-mail NICHDInformationResourceCenter@mail.nih.gov
Website: http://www.nichd.nih.gov

Autism Network International (ANI)
P.O. Box 35448
Syracuse, NY 13235-5448
E-mail jisincla@mailbox.syr.edu
Website: http://ani.autistics.org

Autism National Committee (AUTCOM)
P.O. Box 429
Forest Knolls, CA 94933
Website: http://www.autcom.org

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
10801 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852-3279
Phone 800-638-8255
Fax 301-571-0457
E-mail actioncenter@asha.org
Website: http://www.asha.org