A Pervasive Developmental Disorder is used as an umbrella term for all of the following related disorders: Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Rett syndrome and Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, or PDD-NOS, for short. All of these disorders differ slightly but share the very general common characteristics which lead to difficulty in socializing with others, repetitive behaviors, and heightened sensitivities to certain stimuli.
This article will focus on the PDD-NOS Pervasive Developmental Disorder since that is what most people mean to refer to even if they unintentionally leave the last -NOS out of the term.
Individuals with PDD-NOS behave similarly to those with classic autism in many ways. Firstly, it’s important to understand that one person affected with PPD-NOS will not act exactly like the next person who is affected with the same disorder (as is the case for autism) so it’s important to recognize that you are dealing with truely individual cases.
PDD-NOS individuals have been diagnosed as such because they may exhibit some symptoms of the other related disorder conditions but they don’t meet all the specific criteria set by the experts to qualify them for one or the other. For example, if a child displays some of the behavior common to autism but didn’t start the “off” behavior until past the determined autism-qualifying age, he/she may be diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder-NOS.
It’s for this reason that those with PDD-NOS are sometimes thought to have a “milder” form of autism which isn’t really true. While one symptom may be minor compared to those who have been officially diagnosed with one of the other PPD diseases, other symptoms may actually be worse.
It takes a bunch of medical professionals and family members to arrive at an action plan that works best for someone with PDD-NOS. A “one-size-fits-all” program wouldn’t work – the plan should be tailored to the individual and could include treatments such as:
– Various behavioral regimens, including play therapy
– Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
– Sensory integration therapy
– Anti depressants and/or other medications
– Social skills training which focuses on very specific situations and teaches children how to interact with their peers for those exact situations
– Martial arts therapy, where the person affected with PDD-NOS builds their muscles as well as their group interaction capabilities
– Music therapy which helps children to communicate with the use of songs – Facilitated communication which teaches kids to use computers or other devices to express themselves. This works especially well if the child cannot express themselves verbally very well.
Structure and consistency is crucial for children with PDD-NOS so this should always be taken into consideration, especially before any outings or events.
Finally, caring for someone with Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified also means that you need to care for yourself. Take time out for yourself when you need it. Make sure that you surround yourself with friends, family members, teachers and healthcare providers that you can count on to stick with you during the many ups and downs of life with a PPD-NOS child.