Pervasive Developmental Disorders – Everything You Need To Know

The term “pervasive development disorders,” is also called PDD and is associated with a series of conditions that include time lags in the development of many basic human skills. The most prominent among these is communication and the ability to socialize with others or to use imagination. Children with PDD are often confused and typically have problems in understanding what’s going around them.

Disorders described herein may be more or less severe. Some may be present and others not. To diagnose autism or PDD, a number of symptoms must be associated.  Different classifications have been developed to enable these diagnostics, which must be based on accurate assessments of human difficulties.

Impaired Social Interactions

People with autism have a poor understanding of social or emotional cues such as tone of voice or facial expressions. They have great difficulty in interpreting what others think or feel, they lack empathy. Autistic children do not know how to play interactively with other children, they tend to isolate themselves, do not respond to the call of their first name or shun eyes.

Qualitative Impairments In Communication

Qualitative Impairments In Communication

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Language disorders are constant. Many autistic children do not have access to oral language, or when it is acquired, often with delay, many difficulties persist.

  1. On the expressive level: Language remains very concrete around the needs of everyday life (food, family, toilet …). Children with autism rarely use the word “I”. The intonation is strange, the voice modulated, “high perched.”
  2. On the receptive side: there is a lack of emotional reaction to verbal solicitations, difficulties in accessing second-degree comprehension.

When oral language is acquired, a weak synchronization, a lack of reciprocity in the conversational exchanges remain perceptible and hinder more or less all communication.

People with autism are also embarrassed in their nonverbal communication: they use few social gestures (“goodbye”, “bravo” …), little interactive gestures, little or no imitation. Their spoken communication is not accompanied by gestures as well as their facial expressions are not very expressive. In children, there are irregularities in the game of “pretending”.

Restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior

The interests of autistic children are restricted, their activities tend to be stereotyped and repetitive. They can be fascinated by unusual objects (bits of string, feathers, crumbs …), or unusually use objects or toys (turning a small car wheel indefinitely).
They often need more or less complex rituals and react very badly to changes in every day routine.

Their stereotypical behavioral patterns include, repetitive gestures such as swinging or turning on oneself. People with autism may also exhibit self-aggressive behavior and self-mutilation.
All these behaviors are more or less invasive, and may persist or, on the contrary, diminish with time. They can also reappear at certain periods of life. It will then be important to try to understand the factors that can lead to this type of aggravation.

Other symptoms

Other symptoms frequently associated with autism are:

  1. Special cognitive skills: very good visuo-spatial capacities. Their memory may be highly developed in certain areas.
  2. Sensory characteristics: they may have issues in all sensory modalities (hearing, vision, smell, touch, vestibular, meaning of position in space), and may be characterized by hypo, hypersensitivity, or the search for sensory stimulations are often unusual (sensitivity to certain sounds, odors or textures, sometimes coexisting with an apparent indifference to others, different perception of pain and more)
  3. Movement and posture disorders: difficulty of right-left or high-low coordination of the body, stiffness and use of posture to regulate emotions, impairment of fine motor skills.

Since these conditions are usually identified around 3 years of age in children, which is a critical time in a child’s development, they are called development disorders.  With proper understanding of the disorder, parents can make the life of children simpler and less stressful.

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