Other types of pervasive developmental disorders (pdds)
- Asperger's syndrome: Patient's with Asperger's syndrome have many of the same symptoms as autistic patients, in terms of problems with social interaction and communication. However, patients with Asperger's syndrome have normal intelligence and verbal skills. Although these patients typically have strong verbal and grammar skills, they usually have other language problems, such as being too literal and/or having difficulty understanding non-verbal communications, such as body language. Other symptoms may include motor skill problems (e.g. clumsy movements), obsessive or repetitive routines and schedules, and sensitivity to sensory information (e.g. sound, light, or taste).
- Childhood disintegrative disorder: Childhood disintegrative disorder, also called Heller's syndrome, is a rare condition in which children develop normally until they are about three or four years old. However, as they get older, children begin to experience a dramatic loss of social and communication skills, as well as motor skills. Patients may also develop stereotypical movements, such as hand wringing or flapping. These patients may develop specific routines or rituals and they may not respond well to changes or transitions. Some patients may become catatonic, which means they maintain a fixed posture or body position.
- Childhood disintegrative disorder is sometimes confused with late-onset autism because both of these disorders involve normal development followed by a loss of learned skills. However, autism generally occurs at an earlier age. Also, patients with childhood disintegrative disorder typically suffer from a much more dramatic loss of skills and greater likelihood of mental retardation than autistic patients.
- Pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS): Pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) is a term used to describe patients who meet most, but not all, of the criteria for a PDD. Although these patients have many of the same symptoms associated with a PDD, they cannot be definitively diagnosed with a specific type of PDD.
- Rett syndrome: Rett syndrome is a progressive brain disorder that mostly affects females. Infants with Rett syndrome appear to develop normally at first, but over time, they stop developing and lose most of their previously developed skills. Eventually, these patients become intellectually disabled.
- Symptoms of Rett syndrome become noticeable when the patient is between the ages of three months and three years old. Patients typically lose purposeful hand movements (e.g. reaching or grasping for things) and they are no longer able to speak. Patients have difficulty balancing and poor coordination. This often prevents the patient from walking on his/her own. Patients may develop stereotypical hand movements, such as hand wringing or clapping. Breathing problems, including hyperventilation, breath holding, or apnea, may develop. Patients may also develop anxiety and social behavioral problems.
When to visit a doctor
- Early diagnosis and prompt treatment has been shown to help improve autistic patients' long-term prognoses.
- According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD), children who experience certain developmental problems should visit their doctors.
- Children who have not made gestures, such as waving or pointing by the age of 12 months, should visit their doctors.
- Children who have not said a single word by the age of 16 months should visit their doctors.
- Children who have not said two-word phrases by 24 months of age should visit their doctors.
- Children who experience any loss of language or social skills at any age should visit their doctors.
Tips for the caregiver
- Caring for an autistic patient can be emotionally and physically tiring at times. Caregivers or parents of an autistic patient should make time to relax and enjoy their favorite activities.
- Siblings of an autistic child may feel left out or jealous of the attention that their brother or sister receives from their parents. Therefore, parents should make an effort to spend one-on-one time with their other children.
- Caregivers may find support from other families who are caring for an autistic person. Many communities have local support groups for parents, family members, and caregivers of autistic patients.
- Caregivers should educate themselves about autism. The more a caregiver knows about the condition, the better they can help the patient. Being educated on autism may also help the caregiver learn how to communicate better with the child.
Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.