HIGHLIGHTS Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) - Pervasive Developmental Disorder is a disability that affects verbal and nonverbal communications, social interactions, and play activities. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) children often appear relatively normal until the age of 18-24 months when parents notice delays in language, play or social interaction. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is a spectrum disorder, meaning there is a wide variation in symptoms from mild to severe. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is an "umbrella" diagnosis that includes Autism, Aspergers Syndrome, Rett's Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) Not Otherwise Specified (Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified). Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) occurs in 1 out of 500 individuals. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is four times more prevalent in boys than girls. It affects all racial, ethnic, social and income levels. Many medical and educational professionals are unaware of how Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) affects people and how to work effectively with individuals with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is not a mental illness and is not caused by bad parenting. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) children do not choose to misbehave. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) can be inherited, chromosome 7 and 13 have been implicated. Fragile X and the Rett's Syndromegene has been linked to Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) may occur in children born to mothers who drank alcohol excessively or took drugs during the pregnancy. MRI and PET scans have shown brain abnormalities in some Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) children. The neurochemicals serotonin and dopamine have been strongly implicated. Some research has implied an immune cause. There are no medical tests for diagnosing Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). The diagnosis is based on observations of the child's communication, behavior and developmental levels. Rating scales such as CHAT (Checklist for Autism in Toddlers), CARS (Childhood Autism Rating Scale) or the Australian Scale for Aspergers Syndrome are often helpful. http://www.mind-steps.com/ Characteristics of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) Communication: Their language development is delayed. They use words without understanding their meaning. They communicate with gestures instead of words. They may "lead," taking you by the hand to what they want Many, but not all, make poor eye contact. They often have few facial expressions. They may echo your words. Some have an amazing memory (repeating TV commercials exactly, or memorize all the world's capitals). They may read Time magazine perfectly at 3 years of age but not understand what they are reading. They may reverse their pronouns. They often refer to themselves as "he" or "she" instead of Ill." Social Interaction: They spend time alone rather than with others, show little interest in making friends and are less responsive to social cues such as smiles. Sensory Impairment: They have unusual reactions to physical sensations such as being overly sensitive or unresponsive to touch, pain, sight, hearing, smell, or taste. They may smell everything or refuse foods because of texture. They may stare at moving lights or fan. They may self stimulant behavior. These Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) children have repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., rocking, clapping or hand flapping). Play: They lack spontaneous make-believe play. They do not imitate others actions, or initiate pretend games. They may stick on one activity (like stacking. lining up cars, rolling marbles, or watching water drip). They may have a favorite toy (like a thread or a stick) that they will carry everywhere. Behaviors: They may be hyperactive or very passive, throw frequent tantrums for no apparent reason, or perseverate (get stuck) an a single item, idea, or person. They lack common sense and have abnormal intense interests. They become obsessed with a routine and may have extreme temper tantrums if something is changed. They may be aggressive or violent towards others. They may hurt themselves by biting or head banging. Types of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) Autism, sometimes called Kanner's Autism, is fairly rare. These children do not communicate at all and will spend hours rocking or playing with string or books. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified is a child who exhibits fewer symptoms than "classic Autism. " Rett's Syndrome occurs in girls who have normal head size at birth and normal development. Then between 5 and 48 months their head growth slows and they develop stereotypic hand movements (e.g., hand-wringing or hand washing). They become socially withdrawn. They have poor coordinated gait or trunk movements. They develop severely impaired expressive and receptive Language. Many have difficult to control seizures. Asperger's Syndrome (AS) have normal language development during the first few years. But they have impaired social and non-verbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures. Children with AS tend to be "in their own world" and preoccupied with their own agenda. They take things literally (they look for dogs when you say "it's raining cats and dogs"). AS children have -an excellent rote memory and musical ability. They become intensely interested and perseverate on a subject. For example, an AS child may have a favorite TV program, and one day it is on at a different time. Not only are they upset by the change, but they talk about the incident for weeks afterward. They may obsess on encyclopedias or memorize all the 60's rock groups. Their social skills are very poor. They lack self-awareness-they simply do not perceive themselves as "in the world." They may be insulted by other kids, and they are not hurt because they do not understand that they have been insulted. They think of themselves as perfect. They see everything as black or white, pointing out flaws or mistakes in others. They are not able to interpret their own feelings. They do not know what feelings are. They cannot understand that other people have feelings. Other features include clumsiness lack of a sense of humor, and a high anxiety level. AS children appear to be "oddballs," but they are not stupid; in fact they are almost always very intelligent. But they are stuck in a "fog" Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) Treatment Comments Insurance companies, government regulations, and school services rely on guidelines for eligibility and benefits. Many entitlements unfortunately depend on the child having the keyword "Autism" in their diagnosis. When they are called Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified, they often do not get the benefits they need. However, regardless of whether your child's label is Autism or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), their treatment is similar. Concentrate on the child's education and treatment rather than becoming excessively concerned about the child's label. There are no quick fixes. Vitamins (e.g. B6, Mg), and diet supplements (e.g. grapeseed, SAM-e, Ginko Biloba, Kava Kava, Pycnogenol, DAME, or DHEA) have not been shown to work. Yeast elimination and low gluten/wheat diets have not been shown to be of benefit either. Many with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) have unusual diets such as eating hot dogs for a month. Many of these children have abnormal Zinc or Magnesium levels. But the levels appear to be caused by their diet, it is not their diet causing the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Secretin was touted as a cure, but the studies to date have not shown clear benefit. Facilitated Communication, Auditory Training and Vestibular Training have been shown to be ineffective. Those with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) respond well to a highly structured specialized education and behavior modification program, tailored to the individual. This includes language therapy, social skills development, daily living skills, sensory impairment therapy, (Occupational Therapist (OT): Occupational Therapy) and a behavior modification program. Methods like Lovaas (Applied Behavioral Analysis - ABA) have been shown to work well. Medications are helpful for treating symptoms but they are not a cure. SRI's like Prozac, Atypical Tranquilizers like Risperdal, and TCA's like Parnelor may help hyperactivity and obsessions. Stimulants like Ritalin help attention. AED's like Tegretol may help aggression. Trazazdone or naltraxone help self injurous behavior. Stay calm! Be sure to take time off for yourself. Let relatives and friends help. Attend support groups. If you are "burned out" you will not help your child. It is very important to get and keep eye contact with the child. You may have to hold their head to do this. Speak clearly and be concrete. Keep it short. Use time-out to discipline the child. Be consistent. A regular routine is very helpful. Don't take misbehavior personally.