What is Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS)?

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Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS) is a diagnosis on the autism spectrum It is characterized by delays in social interaction and communication, and by repetitive behaviors or interests.

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Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) is a diagnosis used to describe children who have difficulties with social interaction and communication, but who do not meet the full criteria for Autistic Disorder or Asperger’s Disorder. PDD-NOS is sometimes referred to as “Atypical Autism.”

Children with PDD-NOS often have many of the same symptoms as children with Autistic Disorder or Asperger’s Disorder, but they tend to have less severe symptoms or fewer symptoms than children with those disorders. In addition, children with PDD-NOS typically develop language skills, albeit later than other children.

What is Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS)?

Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS) is a disorder that is characterized by delays in the development of social and communication skills. PDD-NOS is considered to be part of the autism spectrum People with PDD-NOS may have difficulty with social interactions, making eye contact, and understanding nonverbal cues.


Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) was first described in the 1980s. It was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, third edition (DSM-III) as a subcategory of autism because it shared many features with autistic disorder. In the DSM-III-R, PDD-NOS was no longer considered a subcategory of autism but was retained as one of five pervasive developmental disorders. The current DSM-5 no longer uses the term PDD-NOS but includes it under the heading “autism spectrum disorder” (ASD).


Prevalence of PDD-NOS is estimated to fall somewhere between 1-2% of the population, making it the most common of the autism spectrum disorders Males are affected four times more often than females.


There is no one known cause of PDD-NOS. However, research suggests that it may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Environmental factors:
Some research suggests that certain infections during pregnancy may increase the risk for PDD-NOS. Additionally, exposure to certain toxins or chemicals (such as lead) during pregnancy may also increase the risk.

Genetic factors:
PDD-NOS may be caused by a change (mutation) in a gene. It may also be passed down from parent to child.


PDD-NOS is diagnosed when a child does not meet the criteria for any specific PDD but still displays symptoms of a PDD. In order to be diagnosed with PDD-NOS, a child must have at least two of the three main symptoms of autism (impairments in social interaction, communication, and imagination) and at least six of the following secondary symptoms:

– poor eye contact
– lack of facial expression
– aloofness
– response to pain is either incongruent or delayed
– rocked or spun self in circles
– repetitive use of objects/toys
– need for sameness/routine
– preoccupation with parts of objects
– echolalia or repetitive language


There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating PDD-NOS, as each individual’s needs are unique. However, treatment typically focuses on improving communication skills and social interactions, as well as decreasing problem behaviors.

Intervention and therapy may be provided by a team of specialists, which may include psychologists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and behavior analysts. A combination of therapies may be used, and treatment plans should be regularly reviewed and updated as necessary.

Medications are not typically used to treat PDD-NOS itself, but may be prescribed to help manage associated symptoms such as anxiety or depression.

If your child has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS, it is important to remember that they can still lead a happy and fulfilling life. With the right support and treatment, they will be able to reach their full potential.


PDD-NOS is a diagnosis used to describe children who have some, but not all, symptoms of autism or another PDD. It is important to remember that PDD-NOS is not a single disorder, but rather a group of related disorders. Each child with PDD-NOS will have a unique set of symptoms and will require an individualized treatment plan.

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