Give Online: Help shape patient care for generations to come.


216.444.KIDS (5437)

Request an Appointment



Contact us with Questions

Expand Content

Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD)

What are Pervasive Developmental Disorders?

The diagnostic category of pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) refers to a group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills. Parents may note symptoms as early as infancy, although the typical age of onset is before 3 years of age. Symptoms may include problems with using and understanding language; difficulty relating to people, objects, and events; unusual play with toys and other objects; difficulty with changes in routine or familiar surroundings, and repetitive body movements or behavior patterns. Autism (a developmental brain disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication skills, and a limited range of activities and interests) is the most characteristic and best studied PDD. Other types of PDD include Asperger's Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Rett's Syndrome. Children with PDD vary widely in abilities, intelligence, and behaviors. Some children do not speak at all, others speak in limited phrases or conversations, and some have relatively normal language development. Repetitive play skills and limited social skills are generally evident. Unusual responses to sensory information, such as loud noises and lights, are also common.

Is there any treatment?

There is no known cure for PDD. Medications are used to address specific behavioral problems; therapy for children with PDD should be specialized according to need. Some children with PDD benefit from specialized classrooms in which the class size is small and instruction is given on a one-to-one basis. Others function well in standard special education classes or regular classes with additional support.

What is the prognosis?

Early intervention including appropriate and specialized educational programs and support services plays a critical role in improving the outcome of individuals with PDD. PDD is not fatal and does not affect normal life expectancy.

What research is being done?

The NINDS conducts and supports research on developmental disabilities, including PDD. Much of this research focuses on understanding the neurological basis of PDD and on developing techniques to diagnose, treat, prevent, and ultimately cure this and similar disorders.


National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities

U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Special Education Programs
1825 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC   20009
Phone: 202.884.8200
Toll-free: 800.695.0285
Fax: 202.884.8441

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

National Institutes of Health, DHHS
6001 Executive Blvd. Rm. 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
Phone: 301.443.4513
Toll-free: 866.415.8051
TTY: 301.443.8431
Fax: 301.443.4279

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Information Clearinghouse

1 Communication Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20892-3456
Toll-free: 800.241.1044
TTD/TTY: 800.241.1055

National Institute of Child Health and Human Information Resource Center

P.O. Box 3006
Rockville, MD 20847
Toll-free: 800.370.2943
TTY: 888.320.6942
Fax: 301.984.1473

Autism Network International (ANI)

P.O. Box 35448
Syracuse, NY 13235-5448

Autism Research Institute (ARI)

4182 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA 92116
Phone: 619.281.7165
Fax: 619.563.6840

Autism National Committee (AUTCOM)

P.O. Box 429
Forest Knolls, CA 94933

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)

55 Kenosia Avenue
Danbury, CT 06810
Phone: 203.744.0100
Voice Mail" 800.999.NORD (6673)
Fax: 203.798.2291

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

2200 Research Boulevard
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: 800.638.8255
Fax: 301.571.0457

MAAP Services for Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and PDD

P.O. Box 524
Crown Point, IN 46308
Phone: 219.662.1311
Fax: 219.662.0638

Source: National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Can't find the health information you’re looking for?

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 10/17/2012...#6104