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Pervasive developmental disorders
Pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) refer to a group of disorders that involve delays or problems in communication and social skills. Signs of PDD are usually noticeable by the time a child is 3. Signs of PDD 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
Children with PDD vary widely in their behaviors and how well they function. For instance, some children do not speak at all, others speak in limited phrases, and some use language fairly normally. Autism is the most common PDD. Asperger syndrome is the mildest type of PDD.
The causes of PDDs are unknown, but all of them seem to involve problems in the brain. Although there is no cure for PDDs, behavioral therapy and school interventions can help children with PDD function better. Medicines can treat some behavioral symptoms.
Adults with PDD are able to function at varying degrees depending on the severity of the disorder. Many adults with milder forms of PDD are able to work and live on their own or with some help. Still, difficulties communicating and relating to people can cause problems in many areas of life. People with PDD can benefit from skills training, support, and therapy into adulthood.
Explore other publications and websites
Asperger Syndrome Fact Sheet — This online publication describes Asperger syndrome and discusses available treatments, prognosis, and research being done. It also lists additional resources.
Autism (Copyright © National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities) — This fact sheet provides a definition and overview of autism and pervasive developmental disorders, including incidence, characteristics, educational implications, and where to get more information.
Autism and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This publication explains what pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) are, what causes them, and how they are diagnosed and treated. It also includes information on how to help your child if he or she is diagnosed with a PDD.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (Pervasive Developmental Disorders) — This booklet describes the symptoms, causes, and treatments for autism spectrum disorders, also called pervasive developmental disorders. It also includes information on getting help and coping.
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder — This publication explains what childhood disintegrative disorder is, what causes it, and how it is diagnosed and treated.
Life With Autism: Stress on Families (Copyright © Autism Society of America) — Having a child can be stressful, but having a child with an autism spectrum disorder can be especially taxing for parents. this web page addresses the concerns that parents of children with autism may have and offers advice on how to deal with stress.
NINDS Pervasive Developmental Disorders Information Page — This information page provides the clinical definition of pervasive developmental disorders and discusses research on interventions. It also provides a list of organizations and related publications.
NINDS Rett Syndrome Information Page — This online publication reviews treatment, prognosis, research and resources for Rett Syndrome.
Post Secondary Education — Living with an autism spectrum disorder doesn’t mean you can’t go to college. This fact sheet helps people with autism spectrum disorders and their families prepare for the transition to college.
Connect with other organizations
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, CDC
National Dissemination Center for Children With Disabilities, OSEP, ED
National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, HHS
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH, HHS
President's Committee for People With Intellectual Disabilities, ACF, HHS
Public Information and Communications Branch, NICHD, NIH, HHS
Content last updated September 22, 2009.
Resources last updated September 22, 2009.
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