Introduction to PDD
PDD is a condition that is often misunderstood due to the variations in the way it affects people. Medical journals and text books can be difficult to understand and many parents and family members are left confused. Here are some basic facts about PDD that can help clarify what is involved with the disorder.
Fact One - What is PDD
PDD is an umbrella term that encompasses the four accepted areas of autism. These are autistic spectrum disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, Rett’s disorder and childhood disintegrative disorder. PDD:NOS stands for pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified. Doctors use this terminology when a child has some signs of autism but does not fit into any specific category. PDD is normally characterized by language difficulties, the inability to relate to objects and people, lack of eye contact and emotional interaction and repetitive body movements.
Fact Two - Children with PDD Play with Toys in an Unusual Manner
Children with PDD will play with toys, but may use them in a different way to the average child. Examples of unusual ways of playing with toys includes the following:
- Spinning the wheels of a toy car incessantly
- Focusing on one part of a toy only such as a doll’s eyes
- Lining up toys and performing routines in setting out blocks, dolls, cars etc
- Reluctance to play with other children or adults
Children with PDD find it difficult to engage in imaginative play but there are toys and games designed to help them develop communication skills.
Fact Three - PDD Causes Varying Degrees of Problems as a Child Grows
PDD can present with mild or severe symptoms, and these can change according to the age of the child. Here are signs that may be apparent at different stages of development:
- Some infants with PDD display a lack of social interest at a young age. They avoid eye contact, show little interest in the human voice and do not hold out their arms to be picked up
- During the early childhood phase, the lack of eye contact may continue and there is often a lack of the normal separation anxiety
- Middle childhood is marked by a greater awareness of parents and family members but the child still has problems with friendship and group activities
- During adolescence they may find that their social differences become more visible and self worth suffers as a direct consequence. They have difficulty in responding to other people’s interests and emotions
Fact Four – People with PDD Respond to their Environment in Unusual Ways
People with PDD perceive and respond to their environment in ways that may seem odd or bizarre. Some of the common areas include the following:
- A change in routine can lead to tantrums and emotional meltdowns
- Ritualistic or compulsive behavior whereby activities have to be performed in certain ways
- Attachments to objects that goes beyond the norm
- Unusual or lack of response to sensory input. This may cause some parents to suspect a young child is deaf or visually impaired
Fact Five - Language Problems in People with PDD
PDD is characterized by speech and language problems. These vary in intensity, but are one of the main symptoms of an autistic disorder. The problems are often apparent from a young age, when a baby does not babble. As they grow, they may be non-verbal or may develop echolalia whereby they say a word or phrase repeatedly. If a child does learn to speak, their delivery is often stilted and monotonous with little facial expression.
Understanding facts about PDD can enable parents, siblings and friends to help the affected person in a greater measure. Each case has its own problems but there are ways of working with people with PDD to bring improvement in social skills and speech.