Social disintegration disorder : Social Development

Social disintegration disorder

Disintegrative Disorder
(CDD), also known as Heller's syndrome and disintegrative psychosis, is a rare condition characterized by late onset 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, and is sometimes considered a low-functioning form of it.

CDD was originally described by Austrian educator Theodor Heller (1869 – 1938) in 1908, 35 years before Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger described autism. Heller had previously used the name dementia infantilis for the syndrome.

An apparent period of fairly normal development is often noted before a regression in skills or a series of regressions in skills. The age at which this regression can occur varies, but typically after 3 years of normal development. The regression can be so dramatic that the child may be aware of it, and may in its beginning even ask, vocally, what is happening to her/him. Some children describe or appear to be reacting to hallucinations, but the most obvious symptom is that skills apparently attained are lost.

Many children are already somewhat delayed when the disorder becomes apparent, but these delays are not always obvious in young children. 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 about the right treatment for CDD.

Signs and symptoms[edit]

CDD is a rare condition, with only 1.7 cases per 100, 000.

A child affected with childhood disintegrative disorder shows normal development 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 between the age of 2 through the age of 10, skills acquired are lost almost completely in at least two of the following six functional areas:

Lack of normal function or impairment also occurs in at least two of the following three areas:

In her book, Thinking in Pictures, Temple Grandin claims that comparing to "Kanner's classic autism" and to Asperger syndrome, CDD is characterized with more severe sensory processing disorder but less severe cognitive problems. She also claims that comparing to most persons with autism, persons with CDD have more severe speech pathology and they usually do not respond well to stimulants.


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