A person is diagnosed with PDD-NOS if they have some behaviors seen in autism but don't meet the full criteria for having an Autistic Disorder. All children with PDD-NOS do not have the same symptoms. PDD-NOS symptoms can be mild, with the child exhibiting only a few symptoms while in school or at home. Other children may have a more severe form of PDD-NOS and have difficulties in all areas of their lives.
PDD-NOS Signs & Symptoms
Often children with PDD-NOS are thought to have a "milder" form of autism, though this may not be technically true. One symptom may be minor, while another may be debilitating.
Social Signs & Symptoms
Children with PDD-NOS usually have social symptoms as well. They may want friends, but don't know how to make them. If they have language delays this can also hinder their ability to socialize with others. Often children with PDD-NOS have difficulty understanding body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. Another common symptom of PDD-NOS is difficulty understanding emotions. The child may not be able to distinguish when someone is happy, sad or angry.
Communication Signs & Symptoms
Children with PDD-NOS usually have language and communication problems. As babies, a child with PDD-NOS may not babble or when they do learn words, they exhibit "echolalia" repeating words or phrases over and over again. Children with PDD-NOS often take language literally and don't understand when someone is joking or being sarcastic. If the child with PDD-NOS has some language it is easier to expand language in these children, than it is with a child who is completely nonverbal. Tips for Social Success for the Child with PDD-NOS
Behavioral Signs & Symptoms
Behavioral symptoms of PDD-NOS can include emotional outbursts and tantrums. These children may become very dependent on routines and have a need for things to be the same. They can misinterpret situations and become frustrated easily. It is important to remember when dealing with your child; often these tantrums are a result of fear, anxiety or misunderstanding a situation. A common symptom of PDD-NOS is "perseveration" or dwelling on a certain subject. They often have an overwhelming preoccupation with one subject preferring only to talk about or play with toys that are associated with the area they are interested in.
Children with PDD-NOS respond best to a combination of treatments. Several therapies combined together to address various developmental challenges such as ABA, play therapy, sensory integration therapy, and social skills training should work best. According to the Yale Developmental Disabilities Clinic, children with PDD-NOS may not get the help they need as readily as those with autism so it is important for friends and family to advocate for services for the child with PDD-NOS.