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What Is PDD-NOS?
Pervasive Developmental Disorder — Not Otherwise Specified
Because there are no agreed biological markers, the PDD diagnosis is made by an autism symptoms checklist. If enough symptoms fit, an autism diagnosis is applied or perhaps Asperger syndrome. If only a few symptoms apply, then your child might qualify for PDD-NOS – “Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified.”
PDD-NOS is for people who have a developmental disorder — i.e., autism, Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, for instance — but do not quite fit any of these categories.
An autism diagnosis typically requires evidence of issues in the famous autistic triad of:
- social impairments
- communication impairments
- repetitive and stereotyped behaviors
The PDD-NOS diagnosis used to be defined as evidence of difficulties in 2 of these domains, and one of the two had to be social impairments. However, in 2013, the single category of “Autism Spectrum Disorders” was developed to encompass autism, Asperger syndrome and PDD-NOS, which requires social and communication impairment (these two domains are merged) and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors.
Under these new rules, 64 of the 66 children in the PDD-NOS group would not meet the criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder. While over diagnosis has always been a risk, this tighter definition does leave a lot of children without treatment options. One possibility is a new category for ASD called Social Communication Impairment.
PDD-NOS: Where to Find Help
A diagnosis of a PDD-NOS should be made by a doctor with expertise in the area. These include a pediatric neurologist, developmental pediatrician, pediatric psychiatrist or pediatric psychologist. Parent questionnaires, educational and cognitive assessments, language assessments, or play and behavior assessments might be used to help diagnose a PDD. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment choices need to be made.
One contemporary treatment that should be considered is cognitive skills brain training. The power of brain training is that it treats many developmental and learning problems at their source, instead of focusing on symptoms.
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