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Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified

Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified, or PDD-NOS, for short, is a condition on the spectrum that exhibits some, but not all, of the symptoms associated with classic Autism. That can include difficulty socializing with others, repetitive behaviors, and heightened sensitivities to certain stimuli.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified is often incorrectly referred to as simply "PDD." The term PDD refers to the class of conditions to which Autism belongs. PDD is NOT itself a diagnosis, while PDD-NOS IS a diagnosis. The term Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS; also referred to as "Atypical Personality Development," "Atypical PDD," or "Atypical Autism") is included in DSM-IV to encompass cases where there is marked impairment of social interaction, communication, and/or stereotyped behavior patterns or interest, but when full features for Autism or another explicitly defined PDD are not met.  

It should be emphasized that this ''subthreshold'' category is thus defined implicitly, that is, no specific guidelines for diagnosis are provided. While deficits in peer relations and unusual sensitivities are typically noted, social skills are less impaired than in classical Autism. The lack of definition(s) for this relatively heterogeneous group of children presents problems for research on this condition. The limited available evidence suggest that children with PDD-NOS probably come to professional attention rather later than is the case with Autistic children, and that intellectual deficits are less common.

Those with PDD-NOS behave like those with classic autism in many ways. First, they are all different (meaning one person with PDD-NOS doesn't act exactly like another; the same holds true for classic Autism). When interacting with others, they may appear unemotional or unable to speak, they could have trouble holding eye contact, or they may have trouble transitioning quickly from one activity to the next.

It's difficult to predict how easy — or hard — life will be in the long run for a person with PDD-NOS, as much depends on the severity of his or her symptoms and how he or she reacts to therapies. But if, like many others, the condition is on the "milder" side of the spectrum, your child will likely be able to care for himself or herself while growing older. Marriage and parenting may prove overwhelming for some, though not necessarily for all of those with PDD-NOS. The good news: It's possible to enjoy a full, if complicated, life.