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Children diagnosed with childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), along with their families, sadly and unfortunately face a bleak future. This rare but aggressive disorder strikes a normally developing child usually between the ages of 2 to 4, although children as old as 10 have received CDD diagnoses. The prominent feature of CDD is its ability to cause a child’s acquired or learned skills to disintegrate. For instance, a child who had previously mastered self-care skills and language capacities would begin to lose those abilities. The child’s development typically regresses to the point that he or she requires long-term care, including residential care with professional staff.
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Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) is a debilitating and aggressive disorder that causes children to regress in developmental stages they had previously acquired. This includes personal self-care skills, as well as language and social skills. MayoClinic.com  defines the following characteristics as indicative of CDD:
Loss of formerly acquired skills:
- Self-care skills, including bladder and bowel control.
- Language skills, including expressive and receptive.
- Fine and gross motor skills.
- Social and play skills.
Impairment or loss of previously functional skills:
- Language and communication: delay or loss of speech; odd speech habits, such as echolalia (i.e., repetition of words or syllables); breakdown in ability to communicate with peers or participate in creative play.
- Social skills: loss of ability in recognition of emotions, gestures, and other nonverbal cues; loss of ability or interest in forming friendships.
- Recurring “unusual" behaviors: easily fixated on particular objects, activities, or people; resistance to changes in routine or schedule; engrossed in repetitive motions, such as rocking or hand-flapping.
 (Modified list from previous articles).
Consult with your child's pediatrician if you notice your child has suffered significant loss of previously acquired skills.
[Image Permission: Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net].
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Rather than curing the disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder treatment is primarily a means to provide behavior modification and relief from symptoms. Treating CDD may eventually require admitting a child to a long-term residential care facility with professional staff, if the child’s condition disintegrates to the point of severe and permanent disabilities. CDD treatments, according to MayoClinic.com , may include some or all of the following:
- Behavior therapy: designed to help the child learn or regain lost skills, including self-care skills, communication, and social skills; therapy consists of reinforcement techniques that support desired behaviors, and discourage undesirable behaviors.
- Medications: not intended to eliminate behaviors, but alleviate and/or control them by addressing symptoms such as anxiety, depression, psychosis, and seizures.
- Alternative therapies: only complement, not replace, behavior therapy and medications; these may include specially designed diets and supplements, sensory integration, and art or music therapy .
(Modified list from previous article).
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Help and Support
Similar to those who have family members with terminal illnesses, families who have a child with CDD need strong, compassionate assistance and support. MayoClinic.com  and Autism-Help.org  provide these suggestions for coping strategies:
- Learn all you can about the disorder: talk to your child’s pediatrician and specialists; read medical journals; talk to other families who have a child with CDD.
- Locate a team of trusted professionals: medical professionals, as well as therapists and instructors, can keep you informed about proper care and treatments for your child.
- Seek out support groups: other families who have children with autism spectrum disorders, PDD, or similar disorders can provide suggestions, encouragement, and emotional support; join these groups in person or find online forums.
- Take time off: caregivers and other family members of children with CDD are under significant stress and emotional strain; take time off to care for yourself and your other family members by engaging in enjoyable activities with the help of other responsible caregivers who watch your child with CDD.
- Seek counseling: parents often experience numerous negative feelings ranging from guilt and anger, to depression and a sense of loss, over their child’s condition; seek counseling and support to deal with these feelings constructively.
- Obtain respite care: qualified, responsible respite professionals either in the home or at a facility can provide parents and other family members with a break and peace of mind.
- Seek advocacy: whether you self-advocate or seek another advocate, it’s important to stay informed about your child’s condition and remain consistent in requiring the best treatments and options for your child’s care.
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Parents desperately seek childhood disintegrative disorder treatment for their children who have that diagnosis. These children suffer the incapacitating loss of previously acquired functional skills. Since CDD is a rare disorder with no known cause or cure, CDD treatment can only help alleviate symptoms and modify certain behaviors. Children who develop severe, permanent disabilities may eventually require long-term, institutional care.
 MayoClinic.com. Childhood disintegrative disorder – Symptoms. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/childhood-disintegrative-disorder/DS00801/DSECTION=symptoms
 Bright Hub. What are the Differences Between Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Autism? by K’Lee Banks. Retrieved from //www.healthguideinfo.com/diagnosing-autism/p85152/
 Bright Hub. What is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder? by K’Lee Banks. Retrieved from //www.healthguideinfo.com/diagnosing-autism/p84991/
 MayoClinic.com. Childhood disintegrative disorder – Treatments and drugs. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/childhood-disintegrative-disorder/DS00801/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs
 MayoClinic.com. Childhood disintegrative disorder –Alternative medicine. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/childhood-disintegrative-disorder/DS00801/DSECTION=alternative-medicine
 MayoClinic.com. Childhood disintegrative disorder-Coping and Support. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/childhood-disintegrative-disorder/DS00801/DSECTION=coping-and-support
 Autism-Help.org. Support for Parents Dealing with ASD. Retrieved from http://www.autism-help.org/family-carer-issues-aspergers-autism.htm