The Autistic Spectrum - Pervasive Developmental Disorder


Pervasive developmental disorders PDD


Children with PDD may find it difficult to interact with others, and are likely to have communication difficulties, both verbal and non-verbal.

It  may be difficult for a child with PDD to understand and use language; they may avoid eye-contact and have no grasp of facial expressions or body language.

Changes to routine and structures may be difficult to cope with: birthdays, holidays even a trip to the shops, may have to be planned for and rehearsed. Play can be problematic, preferring to play alone, repetitively or not at all - frequently copying or pursuing something rigidly. 


Defining pervasive development disorders

Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) and Pervasive developmental disorder - not otherwise specified PDD (NOS) are the umbrella terms for all the autistic spectrum and related disorders such as autism, Asperger's syndrome and Rett's Syndrome. Pervasive (prevalent in all a person does) development disorders are neurological conditions characterised by severe and pervasive impairment or delay in several areas of development.

Often seen as synonymous with ASD, people with PDD will have difficulties with some or all of:

  • Language - speaking and understanding
  • Communication
  • Independence skills
  • Personal development
  • Attention - deficit or obsessional attention paid to a small number of limited, often repetitive tasks
  • Developing wider interests
  • Problem solving
  • Motor skills
  • School work / intellectual development
  • Social skills
  • Heightened sensory awareness - they may for example: find foods difficult to tolerate, need to touch things, be exceptionally sensitive to noise or be overstimulated by a busy primary school classroom.

The term PDD (NOS) pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified, may be used to describe individuals who, although they do not meet the full criteria for autism, nevertheless display autistic symptoms. Late-onset autism would be considered a PDD (NOS).


Further reading

The Autistic Spectrum Semantic Pragmatic Disorder

ASD - Asperger's Syndrome And Autism


Help and advice

Statutory Assessments And Statements Of SEN

National Curriculum And P-levels For Children With SEN

Global Learning Difficulties

Moderate Learning Difficulties - MLD

Severe Learning Difficulties - SLD


School choice

Special Schools

School Admissions

Choosing SEN Provision

SEN Admission To Independent School

Unit and Resourced Provision For SEN

Choosing A School: First Steps For SEN

Choosing A School For SEN - On A Visit

Classroom Help For Children With SEN

Special Schools Reviewed By The Good Schools Guide



The Speech and Language Therapist (SALT)

Occupational Therapy


What Play Teaches Us

Music Therapy

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