Is childhood disintegrative disorder a form of autism?

Another pervasive developmental disorder is childhood disintegrative disorder. Again, we have a disorder that is similar to autism and I think it’s important to know what is and isn’t autism.

The cause of childhood disintegrative disorder is unknown, but it has been linked to neurological problems. An affected child shows a loss of communication skills, has regression in nonverbal behaviors, and significant loss of previously acquired skills. The condition is similar to autistic disorder (

Childhood disintegrative disorder is a condition occurring in 3- and 4-year-olds who have developed normally to age 2. Over several months, a child with this disorder will deteriorate in intellectual, social, and language functioning from previously normal behavior.

***See article for symptoms***

This disorder must be differentiated from both childhood schizophrenia and pervasive developmental disorder (autism).

The most important signs of childhood disintegrative disorder are loss of developmental milestones. The child tends to have normal development through age 3 to 4, and then over a few months undergoes a gradual loss of previously established abilities (e.g., language, motor, or social skills). Generally, the diagnosis is made with a loss of functioning in at least two areas described above.

Outlook and prognosis:

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


The article says that treatment is similar to treatment for autism because they are so similar. I realized I haven’t gotten in to treatment for autism, so I’ll need to do that.

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