Pervasive Development Disorder

Pervasive development disorder, also known as PDD or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a group of conditions that affect a person's ability to effectively communicate and interact with others. PPD usually appears before the age of 3. While the specific cause of PDD is unknown, it is believed to be the result of neurological abnormalities and there may be a genetic component to its development. There are several different disorders classified as PDD, each with its own set of indicators, including: autism, Asperger's syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and Rett's syndrome.

Symptoms of PDD

Symptoms of PDD tend to develop during early childhood, during the time of normal developmental progress, and may include:

  • Difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Repetitive body movements like hand-flapping or spinning
  • Difficulty adjusting to change
  • Temper tantrums or aggressive behavior
  • Obsession with a particular item or part of a toy
  • Inability to interpret facial expressions or body language
  • Lack of empathy
  • Preferring to play alone
  • Speaking with peculiar intonation or rhythm
  • Ritualized behavior patterns
  • Oversensitivity to touch or sound

These symptoms can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Not every child with PPD will have every symptom. Patients with PPD show a wide range of intelligence levels, talents and abilities.

Diagnosis of PDD

To diagnose PDD, the doctor will review the patient's medical history and perform a physical exam. In addition, the patient will be carefully observed and evaluated in terms of speech, behavior and ability to interact with others. Discussions with parents, teachers and other adults can provide an overall view of symptoms. Medical exams such as X-rays or blood tests may also be performed to see if symptoms may be caused by some other underlying physical disorder.

Treatment of PDD

Once diagnosed, a customized treatment plan will be developed for each individual patient with PDD. Treatment may include special education, behavior modification techniques, speech, physical and occupational therapies and medications to reduce anxiety and hyperactivity. These treatments are coordinated between home and school and often involve several therapists and teachers to improve everyday functioning and learning.

There is no cure for PDD, so most patients will continue to have communication problems throughout their lives. Research is ongoing to determine the cause of these disorders and to develop effective treatment options that can improve the quality of life for those affected.

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