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Pervasive Developmental Disorder

Dealing with Pervasive Developmental Disorder
Michael Dedrick-Dwyer, who has autism, takes 30-minute ride on a horse with therapist Rebecca Reubens in Coconut Creek, Fla.
Michael Dedrick-Dwyer, who has autism, takes 30-minute ride on a horse with therapist Rebecca Reubens in Coconut Creek, Fla.
Tom Ervin/Getty Images

While all individuals who have PDD suffer from it differently, many treatments can help ease some of the symptoms of the disorder. Early intervention and creating a treatment program can be very beneficial to sufferers of PDD.

There's no cure-all for every person with PDD. Because PDD affects people differently, treatments also vary greatly by the individual, so what works for one child with PDD may not necessarily work for another. It's important to work with your doctor to correctly diagnose the type of PDD your child has. A childhood development disorder specialist may also be called in to help with diagnosis and treatment.

Some children benefit from medication that will treat certain behavioral problems, such as anxiety, or help combat other medical issues the PDD brings on, such as seizures. Different types of therapy can also be extremely helpful. Some benefit from therapy that can help with communication skills or obsessive routines. Cognitive behavior therapy can help children become aware of troubling situations and help them develop the skills needed to deal with them. Physical, occupational and sensory therapy may help with the clumsiness aspects of PDD. Art therapy and music therapy may also be beneficial. In some cases, special diets may ease symptoms.

Programs can be developed both in school and at home to help children improve their socialization and communication skills. Programs in a school setting may also help reduce various behaviors that prevent the child from learning and functioning normally. In school some children may thrive in small classrooms with individual instruction. Others may benefit from standard special education classes. Some even do well in regular, mainstreamed classes and don't need any specialized support.

In severe cases, children with PDDs may not be able to live independently at any point in their lives. Particularly with childhood disintegrative disorder, children may need full-time professional care in a group home or similar facility.

Although it can be time-consuming and frustrating to find the proper diagnosis and develop a treatment plan, parents can do well by educating themselves about PDD, finding the right team for their child and getting support from other families who are dealing with PDD. For lots more information on pervasive developmental disorders, see the links on the next page