What is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) and Diagnostic Criteria?
Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD – a.k.a. Heller’s syndrome, disintegrative psychosis, dementia infntilis) is a rare condition with only one case in 100,000 children. One of its main characteristics is the late onset of developmental delays, but some children will suddenly or severely reverse in these areas which include language, motor skills, and social functioning. Unfortunately, researchers have no idea why this happens.
CDD vs. Autism
Although there are some similarities between CDD and autism, Theodor Heller formulated CDD 35 years prior to (in 1908) the formulation of autism. Nevertheless, some clinicians still feel as though CDD is a lower functioning type of autism. This is why it was included under the “autism spectrum disorder” in the DSM-5 manual that was released in May 2013. Herein, it’s termed “regressive autism” – a form of autism involving regression.
With CDD children undergo what seems like a typical developmental stage before there’s regression seen in their skills. Precisely when this regression starts will vary, but it will typically occur after three years of normal development. Sometimes this regression is so dramatic that even the child knows it’s happened and may even ask what’s happening. This is why many psychiatrists feel that this condition is so devastating.
Unfortunately, many children who are diagnosed with CDD are already somewhat delayed when the CDD becomes apparent. However, in younger children, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes these children will also appear to be reacting to hallucinations.
Diagnostic Criteria for CDD
Children who are officially diagnosed with CDD must meet the following diagnostic criteria:
- Normal, age-appropriate development until between the ages of 2-years-old and 10-years-old when they almost completely lose skills in at least two of the 6 functional areas which include expressive language, receptive language, social and self-care skills, controlling their bowel and bladder movements, playing, and motor skills.
- Impairment or the lack of normal functioning will occur in their social interaction, communication, and repetitive patterns.
- They’ll have more severe sensory processing issues than children who are diagnosed with autism, but children with CDD won’t have as severe of issues when it comes to the area of cognition. Additionally, children with CDD have more severe issues with their speech, which don’t respond well to stimulants.
Now that you understand what CDD is, if you feel that your child may have it, you shouldn’t feel all alone. You have a partner in Plano, Texas. Make sure you contact Speech & OT today.