Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)

Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)

Pervasive development disorder is actually a group of disorders. Know all about each in the group. Read about the causes, symptoms and cure for PDD.
HealthHearty Staff
Pervasive development disorder refers to a group of disorders, each of which is characterized by delay in the progress of some basic functions like communication and socialization. The most common one in the group of disorders is Autism. The others include Childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). Let us look at each of them. But before that, let us understand some common symptoms of PDD and the causes and cures for the same.

Symptoms of PDD are detectable before three years of a child's age. Those suffering from PDD have difficulty interacting. They avoid eye contact with people and commonly exhibit difficulties in language perception. They show odd behaviors like spinning and hand flapping and often play with the same toy. PDD is characterized by delay in physical and mental development. Unlike what 'pervasive' implies, children with PDD have problems in some areas, not all, and can be otherwise normal. Here's a quick look at the PDD symptoms.
  • Difficulty understanding language
  • Lack of response to communication
  • Difficulty adapting to changes
  • Unusual, repetitive body movements
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Aggressive behavior, temperamental imbalance, anxiety
Scientists attribute PDD to neurobiological problems. These disorders have genetic causes like abnormalities in chromosomes. Excessive quantities of yeast in the digestive track and other food allergies may cause PDDs. Some environmental toxins are also linked to pervasive development disorders.

There are no medicines that can treat pervasive development disorders. But symptoms like hyperactivity, anxiety and sleeplessness can be alleviated by medications. Mood swings and aggressive behavior can be treated through medication and counseling. Structured teaching referred to as behavioral intervention can help children learn the basic skills they lack. Effective teaching methods can be employed to assist them in learning to interact, play and behave like other kids do. Special education can be given to satisfy individual educational needs of the child. Speech and physical therapy can help increase the functional abilities of these children.

Autism includes restricted interests, repetitive behavior and difficulty in communication. Autistic individuals may be mentally disabled and silent or may be active and show odd social behavior and pedantic communication. Autistic infants do not pay much attention to their surroundings. They cannot respond to their name as promptly as other kids of their age would. Toddlers with autism lack social understanding. They are less attached to people around. Autistic behavior is sometimes characterized by a destructive behavior and aggression. Unusual eating habits and sleep disorders are also seen in autistic individuals. They often communicate non-verbally and show atypical gestures. They do not interact normally.

Rett Syndrome
Decelerated rate of head growth and small hands and feet are characteristic to this syndrome. People with Rett Syndrome show cognitive inability and cannot socialize. Females with the Rett syndrome suffer from gastrointestinal disorders. The syndrome is caused by a sporadic mutation in the gene MECP2. It may be inherited from normal mothers with germline mutation. Symptoms other than those listed before, are inconsolable crying, problems in coordination, panic and screaming fits. There is no cure to the disorder but counseling and care might help. Medicines can help manage gastrointestinal conditions and improve communication skills.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
It is also known as Heller's syndrome. It is similar to autism except that a normal development is observed before regression of skills begins. The skills acquired are suddenly lost. Children suffering from this syndrome may react to hallucinations. Childhood disintegrative disorder is associated with conditions like accumulation of excess fat in the nervous system and brain inflammation due to infection and tumors.
Like other PDDs, medication can be used only to normalize behavior and control seizures in case of childhood disintegrative disorders.

Asperger Syndrome
Normal language skills and cognitive abilities distinguish Asperger Syndrome from other PDDs. Children affected by this show abnormal gestures and postures. They experience difficulty in reciprocating. Their social presence is described as being 'active but odd'. One unusual characteristic of these children is that they show intense but narrow areas of interest. They show weakness in non-literal language and face problems with motor skills. They have low quality sleep. Asperger syndrome arises during early development and its causes are related to genetic disorders. Treatments for Asperger syndrome are concerned with fighting depression in children and improving their behavioral patterns.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
The last type, which is PDD-NOS, lies in the autism spectrum. If people diagnosed for PDD cannot be categorized under any of the other three disorders, they are classified as being under PDD-NOS. This disorder resembles autism.

How can We Help?
We must support children with pervasive development disorders. We should love them and offer support. We should encourage them to learn what they like and acquire skills they need and most importantly, treat them like normal kids. Treatments should be administered with the guidance of medical professionals. Do not consider children with PDDs as disabled, they are different. Love and support can help them lead a normal life.