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Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

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Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDDs)

How Are Pervasive Developmental Disorders Treated?

Because children with pervasive developmental disorders have a range of symptoms and abilities, a plan of therapy must be developed with the child's specific needs in mind. The treatment plan -- or more appropriately, a program of intervention -- will address the child's needs at home and at school. For that reason, intervention planning is a cooperative effort of the parents, health care providers, teachers, and others who may be needed to provide services. This may include counselors, social workers, and occupational, physical, or speech therapists. The plan aims to promote better socializing and communication and reduce behaviors that can interfere with learning and functioning.

A plan of care for a child with a PDD may include:

  • Special education: Education is structured to meet the child's unique educational needs. The goal is always to provide the “least restrictive environment” so that the child with autism will have typical role models.
  • Behavior modification: This may include strategies for supporting positive behavior by the child.
  • Speech, physical, or occupational therapy: These therapies are designed to increase the child's functional abilities.
  • Medication: There are no drugs to treat the PDDs themselves. Medications may be used, however, to treat specific symptoms such as anxiety, hyperactivity, and behavior that may result in injury.

What Research Is Being Done on Pervasive Developmental Disorders?

Most of the research being done on pervasive developmental disorders focuses on learning more about the causes of these disorders, specifically what is going on in the brain. The goal is to use this knowledge to develop better techniques for diagnosing and treating these disorders, ultimately leading to prevention and cure.

What Is the Outlook for People With Pervasive Developmental Disorders?

The outlook varies depending on the type and severity of the pervasive development disorder, the age at which treatment is started, and the availability of supportive resources for the child. Most children with PDDs will continue to have some problems with communication and socialization, but many can experience a significant increase in function with early intervention.

Can Pervasive Developmental Disorders Be Prevented?

Until more is known about the causes of pervasive development disorders, it is not possible to prevent them. However, the sooner a child with symptoms begins treatment, the better he or she will do in the long run.


 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Alan G Weintraub, MD on May 12, 2013
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