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PDD, or pervasive developmental disorder, refers to disorders characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills. Autism is the most characteristic form of this condition. Symptoms include language problems, difficulty with changes in routine, and repetitive body movements. Early intervention plays a critical role in improving the outcome of individuals with this disorder.

What Is PDD?

Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) refers to a group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills. Parents may note symptoms as early as infancy, although the typical age of onset is before three years of age.

Types of PDD

Autism (a developmental brain disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication skills and a limited range of activities and interests) is the most characteristic and best-studied type of PDD.
Other PDD types include:
These conditions all have some of the same symptoms, but they differ in terms of when the symptoms start, how fast they appear, how severe they are, and their exact nature.

Symptoms of PDD

PDD symptoms may include:
  • Problems with using and understanding language
  • Difficulty relating to people, objects, and events
  • Unusual play with toys and other objects
  • Difficulty with changes in routine or familiar surroundings
  • Repetitive body movements or behavior patterns.
Children with PDD vary widely in abilities, intelligence, and behaviors. Some children do not speak at all, others speak in limited phrases or conversations, and some have relatively normal language development. Repetitive play skills and limited social skills are generally evident. Unusual responses to sensory information, such as loud noises and lights, are also common.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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