Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
Childhood disintegrative disorder refers to a condition where a child develops normally during the age of 3 or 4 and then they lose language, social, motor as well as other skills that have already been learned over the first months. Childhood disintegrative disorder is also called the Heller’s syndrome or disintegrative psychosis. The cause of this disorder has not yet been found.
Childhood disintegrative disorder has several similarities with autism. In some cases it is considered as a low-functioning form of autism. It was described originally by an Austrian educator called Theodor Heller in 1908. Earlier, Autism had been described by Hans Asperger and Leo Kanner. Previously, Heller had described the syndrome with the term dementia infantilis.
Some researchers consider childhood disintegrative disorder as a part of autism. However, this disorder differs from autism because people with childhood disintegrative disorder depict serious regression after some months of normal development. The loss of the learnt skills is also more dramatic than that of people suffering from autism. Additionally, childhood disintegrative disorder tends to develop at a later stage than it happens with autism.
Despite the fact that the cause of this disorder remains unknown, there are studies that link childhood disintegrative disorder to the nervous system and the brain. This is because children who suffer from this disorder lose communication skills, nonverbal behaviors and other skills that were learnt earlier. All these are related to the nervous system and the brain.
Among the symptoms of childhood disintegrative disorder include lack or delay in spoken language, impairment of nonverbal behaviors, inability to maintain or start conversations, failure to play, loss of bladder and bowel control, loss of social and motor skills, loss of communication and language skills and problems or difficulties in forming relationships with family members and other children.
Once detected to suffer from this disorder, the child is examined by a health provider to determine whether they are suffering from it. Proper examination is very important because the disorder can be confused with others such as pervasive developmental disorder or childhood schizophrenia. The most significant symptom of childhood disintegrative disorder is loss of the developmental milestones. Diagnose is generally made when the child loses functions in about two developmental areas.
Childhood disintegrative disorder is treated just like autistic disorder or autism. This is because these disorders are the same. Steroid medication is an experimental treatment that helps in slowing the rate at which the condition progresses.
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