|Disorders usually first diagnosed in
infancy, childhood, or adolescence.
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder--
Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), also known as Heller's syndrome and disintegrative
psychosis, is a rare condition characterized by late onset (>3 years of age) of developmental delays
in language, social function, and motor skills. Researchers have not been successful in finding a
cause for the disorder.
CDD has some similarity to autism, but an apparent period of fairly normal development is often
noted before a regression in skills or a series of regressions in skills. Many children are already
somewhat delayed when the illness becomes apparent, but these delays are not always obvious in
The age at which this regression can occur varies, and can be from age 2-10 with the definition of
this onset depending largely on opinion.
Regression can be very sudden, and the child may even voice concern about what is happening,
much to the parent's surprise. Some children describe or appear to be reacting to hallucinations,
but the most obvious symptom is that skills apparently attained are lost. This has been described
by many writers as a devastating condition, affecting both the family and the individual's future. As
is the case with all Pervasive Developmental Disorder categories, there is considerable controversy
around the right treatment for CDD.
The syndrome was originally described by Austrian educator Theodore Heller in 1908, 35 years
before Leo Kanner described autism, but it has not been officially recognised until recently. Heller
used the name dementia infantilis for the syndrome. 
Signs and symptoms
Children with childhood disintegrative disorder typically show the following signs and symptoms:
A child affected with Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) shows normal development generally
up to an age of 2 years, and he/she acquires "normal development of age-appropriate verbal and
nonverbal communication, social relationships, motor, play and self-care skills" comparable to other
children of the same age. However, from around the age of 2 through the age of 10, skills acquired
are lost almost completely in at least two of the following 6 functional areas:
* Language skills:
* Receptive language skills:
* Social skills & self-care skills:
* Control over bowel and bladder:
* Play skills:
* Motor skills:
Lack of normal function or impairment also occurs in at least two out of the three of the following
* Social interaction:
* Repetitive behavior & interest patterns:
The exact causes of Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) are still unknown and further research,
investigation and study are required to understand the causes which result in CDD. Sometimes CDD
surfaces abruptly within days or weeks while sometimes it develops over a longer period of time.
A Mayo Clinic report indicates: "Comprehensive medical and neurological examinations in children
diagnosed with childhood disintegrative disorder seldom uncover an underlying medical or
neurological cause. Although the occurrence of epilepsy is higher in children with childhood
disintegrative disorder, experts don't know whether epilepsy plays a role in causing the disorder."
 CDD has also been associated with certain other conditions, particularly the following:
* Lipid storage diseases: In this condition, a toxic buildup of excess fats (lipids) takes place in the
brain and nervous system.
* Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis: Chronic infection of the brain by a form of the measles virus
causes Subacute sclerosing panencephalitisis. This condition leads to brain inflammation and the
death of nerve cells.
* Tuberous sclerosis (TSC): TSC is a genetic disorder. In this disorder, tumors may grow in the
brain and other vital organs like kidneys, heart, eyes, lungs, and skin.. In this condition,
noncancerous (benign) tumors grow in the brain.
There is no permanent cure for childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) - loss of language and skills
related to social interaction and self-care are rather serious. The affected children face permanent
disabilities in certain areas and require long term care facility. Treatment of CDD involves both
behavior therapy and medications. There's no cure for childhood disintegrative disorder.
* Behavior therapy: Its aim is to teach the child to relearn language, self-care and social skills. The
programs designed in this respect "use a system of rewards to reinforce desirable behaviors and
discourage problem behavior." The behavior therapy is used by a number of health care personnel
from different fields like psychologists, speech therapists, physical therapists and occupational
therapists. At the same time, parents, teachers and caregivers also use the behavior therapy. A
consistent approach by all concerned result into a better treatment.
* Medications: There is no medications available to treat directly the childhood disintegrative disorder
(CDD). Antipsychotic medications are used to treat severe behavior problems like aggressive stance
and repetitive behavior patterns. Anticonvulsant medications are used to control seizures.
1. ^ Yale Developmental Disabilities Clinic: Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. Retrieved on 2006-12-04.
2. ^ Childhood Disintegrative Disorder - Causes