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.


* Loss of social skills * Loss of bowel and bladder control * Loss of expressive or receptive language * Loss of motor skills * Lack of play * Failure to develop peer relationships * Impairment in nonverbal behaviors * Delay or lack of spoken language * Inability to start or sustain a conversation


The exact causes of childhood disintegrative disorder are still unknown. Sometimes CDD surfaces abruptly within days or weeks, while in other cases 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.


Unfortunately, the prognosis for this disorder is limited. The loss of functioning will likely be permanent. However, to some degree, behaviors can be modified.


There is no permanent cure for 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. Treatment of CDD involves both behavior therapy and medications.