Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) is one of the autistic spectrum disorders. Autistic spectrum disorders is a group of psychological conditions characterized by abnormalities of social interactions and communication as well as limited interests and repetitive behavior. Children with PDD-NOS have delays in motor, language, and social skills.

CAUSES

There are many causes of PDD-NOS, such as:

  • Lack of oxygen.

  • Head injury from trauma.

  • Hormonal imbalances.

  • Toxins such as lead.

  • Genetic and biochemical disorders of the body.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of PDD-NOS include delays in all areas of development, such as:

  • Movement (motor) development:

  • Large muscle groups like the legs (gross motor skills).

  • Small muscle groups like the hands (fine motor skills).

  • Language development:

  • Delayed use of words.

  • Repetitive or unusual use of language.

  • Social development:

  • Interaction with other people.

  • Understanding social conventions such as personal space.

Symptoms can differ in severity. Symptoms in many children improve with treatment or as they age. Some people with PDD-NOS eventually lead normal or near-normal lives. Adolescence can worsen behavior problems in some children or cause depression.

DIAGNOSIS

The diagnosis of PDD-NOS is based on clinical symptoms. Formal testing may be done to confirm the diagnosis. Once PDD-NOS is diagnosed, a health care provider may order the following tests to find out what caused the symptoms:

  • Thyroid tests, if none are done at birth.

  • Lead level tests.

  • Hearing tests.

  • Genetic and chemical tests.

  • If there are seizures, an electroencephalogram (EEG), a recording of brain waves, is obtained.

  • Neuroimaging tests may be done if there has been injury to the brain or there is a loss of developmental skills.

  • Ophthalmologic evaluation regarding biochemical or genetic disorders.

TREATMENT

There is no cure for PDD-NOS. The most effective treatments combine early and intensive therapies geared to the specific needs of the child. Treatment should be ongoing and re-evaluated regularly. Treatment is a combination of:

  • Social therapy to help your child learn how to interact with others, especially other children.

  • Behavioral therapy to help your child cut back on obsessive interests and repetitive routines.

  • Medication to treat the symptoms of PDD-NOS, including:

  • Depression and anxiety.

  • Behavior or hyperactivity problems.

  • Seizures.

  • Coordination therapy.

  • Speech therapy.

  • Helping children with their over sensitivity to touch and other sensation.

With treatment, most children with PDD-NOS and their families learn to cope with the symptoms. Social and personal relationships can continue to be challenging. Many adults with PDD-NOS have normal jobs. They may need ongoing family or group support.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Physical activities often help with coordination.

  • Children with PDD-NOS respond well to routines. Doing things like cooking, eating, and cleaning at the same time each day works best.

  • Meeting with teachers and school counselors often helps to ensure progress in school.

  • Children with PDD-NOS may realize that they are different and may become sad or upset. Counseling and sometimes medication may be needed for issues such as depression and anxiety.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your child has new symptoms that worry you.

  • Your child has reactions to medicines.

  • Your child has convulsions. Look for:

  • Jerking and twitching.

  • Sudden falls for no reason.

  • Lack of response.

  • Dazed behavior for brief periods.

  • Staring.

  • Rapid blinking.

  • Unusual sleepiness.

  • Irritability when waking.

  • Your older child is depressed. Symptoms include:

  • Unusual sadness.

  • Decreased appetite.

  • Weight loss.

  • Lack of interest in things that are normally enjoyed.

  • Poor sleep.

  • Your older child has signs of anxiety. Symptoms include:

  • Excessive worry.

  • Restlessness.

  • Irritability.

  • Trembling.

  • Difficulty with sleeping.