Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD)

What are Pervasive Developmental Disorders? 


Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) are classified by delays in socialization and communication skills. Signs of Pervasive Developmental Disorder can vary with each case.  They can be noticed as early as infancy, but are usually more prominent by ages two or three. Some infants later diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder have a lack of interest in, or rejection of, physical contact and are sometimes described as “unaffectionate” by their parents.

There are usually communication delays in children with Pervasive Developmental Disorder.  They have delays with using and understanding language.  Even if the child understands language, he or she may not use it to communicate with others.  He or she may also repeat words or phrases over and over.

Socialization is also delayed with children with Pervasive Developmental Disorder.  Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorder often have trouble relating to and interacting with others, and they typically have a more difficult time developing friendships with their peers.

These disorders fall within the Autism Spectrum, and in many cases are used synonymously with Autism. There are however, additional disorders that are classified as Pervasive Developmental Disorders that are similar in some ways, yet different.



Descriptions of Pervasive Developmental Disorders


  • Autism- Significant delays in social interaction with others and communication skills. Usually there are intellectual delays as well.
  • Asperger’s- Usually exhibits normal development of speech and cognitive skills, typically average to above average IQ, primary delay is with social skills and interaction with others.
  • Rett Syndrom- Primarily found in girls, normal development for the first five to eighteen months of live then loss of socially engaging gestures and learned hand movements.  Loss of coordinated body movements. Severe psychomotor retardation develops.
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder- Normal development for the first two to four years of life, then a severe regression in social and communicative skills. Often symptoms are more extreme than a child with Autism and develops later.
    There is no definitive cause or cure for Pervasive Developmental Disorder, which is why early detection and intervention is so critical in improving the outcome of children with Pervasive Developmental Disorder.  A treatment plan for a child with Pervasive Developmental Disorder should be structured to his or her specific needs.



Treatment Options


  • Behavior Therapy
  • Social Skills Training
  • Speech Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Medication



Pervasive Developmental Disorders Clinicians