The symptoms of PDD are different for each child and can manifest themselves at different times in a child's development, but there are many common threads that can help diagnose a PDD.
- Impaired social interaction -- Children with PDD may become unresponsive, indifferent and avoid eye contact. They may seem withdrawn and have trouble relating to people. They may also talk for long periods about a particular topic without the ability to sense whether the person they're talking to wants to engage in or change the conversation. These children may have difficulty making friendships and empathizing with others.
- Unusual play -- Children with PDD may have trouble relating to objects, sometimes fixating on one part of a toy. They may also fixate on an item so intently that they exclude others.
- Repetitive movement -- Repetitive motions are another signal of PDD. Rocking back and forth, spinning or flapping hands are all typical signs. Children may have self-abusive behaviors and can be known to bite themselves or bang their head against a wall.
- Communication issues -- Children with PDD may learn to communicate later in life. They might also learn to talk, then lose their ability to do so. Before they learn how to speak, they tend not to babble or point for things they want. They may have difficulty both using and understanding language or interpreting body language and facial expressions.
- Sensory issues -- Many children with PDD have sensory problems. This can manifest itself as being extremely sensitive to light, being unable to hear some sounds or experiencing different ways the skin feels things.
- Excessive behavioral problems -- Extreme temper tantrums, aggressive behavior, sleeping problems, fearfulness, anxiety, and being unable to stray from a set routine or familiar surroundings are all signs of a possible PDD.
- Physical characteristics -- In the case of Rett's syndrome, some of its first signs are physical problems. Growth of the head will slow down, and girls may lose muscle tone.
Once diagnosed with PDD, a patient has many options for treatment. As we mentioned before, there's no cure for PDD, but many people with PDDs can be high functioning. With proper treatment, others may lead rich and full lives. On the next page, we'll explore the different options.