Pervasive Developmental Disorders
The Pervasive Developmental Disorders are characterized by varying degrees of impairment in communication skills, social interactions, and by restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior. According to the definition set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) (1994), "Pervasive Developmental Disorders are characterized by severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development: social interaction skills, communication skills, or the presence of stereotyped behavior, interests, and activities" (p. 65). These are the primary symptoms of all types of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (see table 1). Powers (2000) notions, that "pervasive means that the condition affects development extensively and across the board" (p. 9). The DSM-IV (1994) identifies five Pervasive Developmental Disorders (see figure 1).
Autistic Disorder is the first Pervasive Developmental Disorder, which is usually evident within the first year of life. According to Tsai (1998), "children with Autistic Disorder have a moderate to severe range of communication, socialization, and behavior problems" (p. 2). Exkorn (2005) notes that "the three most common early symptoms of Autistic Disorder are a lack of eye contact, a lack of pointing, and a lack of responding" (p. 17). Children with Autistic Disorder seem to live in their own world. These children avoid social contact, refusing to be held or touched. They seem more interested in object rather then children or pets. They show no interest in others and they do not respond to affection. Children with autism preferably do not communicate with you verbally. They much rather use gestures, pictures of symbols to communicate their wants and needs. Children with an Autistic Disorder need the predictable and unchangeable routine in their life, have intense interests and preferences, and show repetitive behaviors such as hand and finger traits.
References: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.). (1994). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. Exkorn, K. S. (2005). The autism sourcebook. New York: HarperCollins. Harris, S. L., & Glasberg, B. (1996). Pervasive developmental disorders: Distinguishing among subtypes. School Psychology Review. 25(3), 308-315. Powers, M. D. (2000). Children with autism. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House. Tsai, L. Y. (1998). Pervasive developmental disorders. National dissemination center for children with disabilities. 20, 1-16.