Pervasive Developmental Disorders
(as defined by the American Academy of Pediatrics)
The number of children with PDD and ADHD is difficult to determine because children with PDD alone often have elements of impulsiveness and hyperactivity. A child with PDD may also have mental retardation, but even if he does not, his PDD is likely to prevent him from participating fully socially and in many school and home activities. The most severe form of PDD, autistic disorder (autism), involves severe language and social impairment and abnormal, repetitive, and unusual patterns of behavior. Autistic disorder usually becomes manifest by age 3 years. Autistic children are unable to form normal relationships with others. Coexisting ADHD can add a significant overlay of aggressive, impulsive, or hyperactive symptoms to the behavior of a child with autism, although it is not always easy to separate the ADHD behaviors from those related to the autism itself.
Asperger syndrome is a recently recognized form of PDD. Children with this condition are of average to above-average intelligence and are able to function adequately in many aspects of daily life. They do not have language delays but have difficulty making conversation and using polite manners, and may have an unusual tone of voice. They experience significant disabilities in social interaction with peers and display unusually intense and narrow interests or obsessions. Children with Asperger syndrome may have coexisting ADHD and are at increased risk of developing anxiety or depressive disorders.
Most children with mental retardation/ADHD or PDD/ADHD will be able to remain in a regular public school, but may need special education–related services such as speech/language therapy and behavior management programs. Children with more serious forms of PDD, including autism, require a more intense program of behavior therapy than that used for children with ADHD alone.
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