A Guide to Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (+ Symptoms) – The Elemy Learning Studio

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Disintegrative disorder is a complex and potentially debilitating condition that affects children during the first three years of life. It can involve an intensification in symptoms such as anxiety, self-injury, attention problems or aggressive behavior which may eventually lead to school failure and social isolation.

A Guide to Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (+ Symptoms) is a guide that has been written by the Elemy Learning Studio. It goes through the symptoms of pervasive developmental disorder, which is also known as autism.


Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) is an uncommon developmental disease in which a child’s previously learnt abilities are regressed. Only one or two children out of every 100,000 are affected.

CDD may strike at any age between the ages of two and ten. It causes youngsters to lose previously learned social, verbal, and physical abilities. Children grow normally until they reach the age of three, when they are diagnosed. CDD is a kind of autism that is classed as a spectrum condition (ASD). 

CDD, on the other hand, differs from ASD in a number of ways. It’s critical to detect the symptoms in order to have a precise diagnosis and get the best therapy. CDD symptoms might be more severe and appear later in childhood than usual autistic symptoms. Treatment for CDD is tailored to the person and often includes behavioral and environmental interventions as well as drugs. Children typically need long-term care and assistance, so early intervention is critical. 

Disintegrative Disorder in Children: An Overview

Childhood disintegrative disorder is a rare condition that now comes under the same diagnostic category as autism spectrum disorder, despite having its own diagnosis before. CDD is also known as Heller’s syndrome after the early 1900s special educator who was the first to define it. 

It is a late-onset variant of autism that might manifest itself suddenly in early life. The usual age of onset is three years old, however CDD may affect children as young as two and as old as ten. Children usually grow normally until this time, at which point they begin to lose previously taught abilities. 

Children are typically aware that they are losing previously taught abilities, and they might feel afraid and seem to be reacting to hallucinations. They may also inquire as to what is happening to them, clench their fists, and have nightmares and panic attacks. With CDD, social, motor, and language abilities frequently deteriorate quickly.

Cause & Symptoms of CDD

Although there is no known cause for CDD, almost half of the children who have this diagnosis also have aberrant brain waves, suggesting that it may be linked to brain physiology. Seizures are also prevalent in people with CDD, which may cause brain waves and electrical impulses to be disrupted. Children with CDD, once again, meet normal developmental milestones until they are at least two years old. They begin to lose abilities at this time, and they generally do so quickly.

At least two of the following six domains of functioning may be completely lost in children with CDD:

  • abilities to move
  • Playing abilities
  • Social and self-care skills
  • Skills in receptive language (comprehending, understanding, and listening to what is being communicated)
  • Control of the bladder and bowels
  • Language abilities that are expressive (being able to produce speech and communicate effectively)

Childhood disintegrative disorder is also characterized by repetitive behaviors, activities, and interests. Even if they previously valued physical contact, children might develop an aversion to it. A youngster who has been speaking at least two or three-word sentences may cease talking or trying to communicate entirely.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder & Autism

Childhood disintegrative disorder is classified as part of the autistic spectrum and falls under the same umbrella as autism. Children with CDD, like those with autism, show skill regression, a lack of interest in social relationships, and engage in repetitive activities.

Around the age of two, children with autism begin to regress. The regression in CDD occurs later in childhood, at an average age of slightly over three. 

When compared to autism, CDD symptoms are often more severe. Regression may be more rapid and occur later in life, with more usual growth occurring before the regression. Anxiety, sadness, and behavioral difficulties may all impact a child’s emotional symptoms.

In contrast to autism, people with CDD might have strong intellectual capacity and the ability to relearn social skills on a regular basis. Other aspects of functioning and everyday life, on the other hand, might be significantly hampered.

CDD is associated with epilepsy and seizures, as well as awareness of skill loss. Children with CDD are more likely to need lifelong assistance, and early detection and intervention may help control symptoms.

CDD Diagnosis

CDD is often diagnosed on an exclusionary basis. Before establishing a diagnosis, you must rule out alternative medical and neurological explanations of rapid and abrupt skill decline. To aid in the proper diagnosis of CDD, parents should maintain careful records of their child’s behaviour and developmental milestones. 

Your kid must have progressed normally for at least the first two years before experiencing regression of previously mastered abilities in order to be diagnosed with CDD. While fast retreat is common, it may sometimes be slow. To rule out any possible reasons of this regression, tests and examinations are required. The following are some examples:

  • MRI or CT scan
  • Test for liver function
  • Thyroid function evaluation
  • HIV testing is available.
  • EEG is an electroencephalogram (EEG (electroencephalogram)
  • Aminoaciduria testing in the urine
  • Glucose and urea levels should be checked.
  • a full blood count (CBC)

An early diagnosis may aid in the management of symptoms and the development of a treatment plan that will benefit both the kid and the parents. As soon as you see any changes in your child’s development, contact their doctor for early intervention.

Children’s CDD Treatment

Each treatment for CDD is specific to the child as symptoms can vary in range and severity. Children with CDD will often need long-term support and care as communication, social, and abilities to move are often significantly impaired. With a structured care plan, certain skills and abilities can be successfully retained.

Medications, behavioral, and environmental therapy are often used to treat children with CDD. Medications are tailored to the symptoms that emerge as a result of CDD. The following are some examples:

  • Anticonvulsants are medications that are used to treat seizures.
  • Antipsychotics are used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and violent conduct.
  • To assist control troublesome behaviors, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are used. 

If CDD is accompanied by other medical issues, medicines may be helpful in treating the underlying illnesses as well. 

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a kind of behavioral therapy that aims to reinforce desirable actions and behaviors. ABA employs a reward system to discourage maladaptive behaviors. Children may re-learn skills and behaviors that have been lost due to regression using ABA and behavioral therapies. 

Additional services such as the ones listed below may be beneficial:

  • Speech therapy is a kind of treatment that involves the
  • Occupational therapy is a kind of treatment that focuses on is a kind of treatment that focuses on
  • Physical therapy is a kind of treatment that is used is a kind of treatment that is used
  • Training in social skills
  • Therapies for sensory integration and enrichment

Communication and language abilities may be enhanced with the use of specialist programs and devices, and assistive technology can help. Education on how to effectively assist a child with CDD is beneficial for parents, carers, and families so that the whole care team can work together.

Adults with CDD Need Support

People with CDD may learn how to manage symptoms and re-learn abilities that were lost during a time of regression with the support of a structured treatment plan that starts early. Adults with CDD may have other medical difficulties and need supportive care since the condition has a significant effect on their everyday lives. Skills may be kept and tools taught to aid communication and self-care with the support of a complete care team.

CDD therapy methods are generally comparable to autism treatment modalities, and may include the following supporting services:

  • Occupational therapy is a kind of treatment that focuses on is a kind of treatment that focuses on 
  • Training in social skillss 
  • Physical therapy is a kind of treatment that is used is a kind of treatment that is used 
  • Therapies that integrate the senses 
  • Interventions in behavior 
  • Therapy for speech and language 

Adults with CDD might benefit from support groups to develop appropriate coping techniques and good peer connections.

Adults with autism and CDD may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches them how to control their emotions, handle stress, and build coping skills. Individuals may understand how their emotions and ideas affect their actions and behaviors, and attempt to maintain a good balance between the two. CBT for ASD therapy may aid with communication skills, particularly when adapted to incorporate visual language.

The sooner treatments and treatment plans are developed, the more successful they are likely to be. To ensure the best quality of life for everyone, family units should collaborate with comprehensive medical teams. CDD is an uncommon form of autism that may be effectively treated with a multidisciplinary approach. 


You’ve Never Heard Of This Terrifying Childhood Condition. (Aug. 2016) Spectrum News is a publication that covers a wide range of 

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (Autism Spectrum Disorder) (April 2019). National Library of Medicine of the United States of America (NLM).

(January–April 2012). Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. The Journal of Pediatric Neurosciences is a publication dedicated to the study of children’s brains

Disintegrative Disorder in Children (January 2021). Patient. 

A Systematic Review of Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder. (As of December 2018) Child Neurology and Developmental Medicine 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a term used to describe (January 2021). StatPearls.

A Quasi-Experimental Pilot Study of Modified CBT Using Visualization for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Anxiety, and Avoidance Behavior. (Updated December 2015). Scandinavian Journal of Psychology is a publication dedicated to the study of psychology in Scandinavia. 

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (PDD-NOS) is a form of autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by the loss of previously acquired skills. The symptoms can vary from child to child, but many children with this condition will show some or all of these signs: emotional and behavioral problems, social withdrawal, difficulty in school, and language delay. This article provides a list of common symptoms associated with PDD-NOS as well as information on how it’s diagnosed and treated. Reference: does pdd-nos go away.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of childhood disintegrative disorder?

A: The symptoms of childhood disintegrative disorder are usually confusion, difficulty with memory and other cognitive tasks. Additionally, there is often a regression in physical development.

What level of autism is childhood disintegrative disorder?

A: Childhood disintegrative disorder is a type of autism spectrum disorder. The level would vary based on the individual and their age, but it would be classified somewhere between severe and moderate levels of autism spectrum disorders.

What are the causes of childhood disintegrative disorder?

A: Causes of childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) may include a history of abuse or neglect, parent-child separation, and family breakdown.

Related Tags

  • causes of childhood disintegrative disorder
  • what are the 5 different types of autism
  • types of high-functioning autism
  • pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (pdd-nos)

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