Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified

According to the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), Autism Spectrum Disorders is based on social communication impairments and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior with varying levels of severity based on levels of support.

There are four sub types of Autism Spectrum Disorder including:

  1. Asperger’s Syndrome
  2. Autistic Disorder
  3. Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
  4. Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

What is Pervasive Developmental Disorder- NOS?

PPD-NOS historically was a term used as a catch- all under the diagnosis of the autism spectrum disorder. It was used as a diagnosis for children who displayed some symptoms of autism, but did not meet the full criteria for the disorder. In order to meet the criteria, a child must have persistent deficits in the areas of social communication and interaction and at least 2 of the 4 types of restricted behavior.

People diagnosed with PDD-NOS tend to display a milder form of the autism disorder while this is not always the case. In some instances, some characteristics may be mild, but severe in other areas.


The prevalence for PDD-NOS is 60-70 per 10,000 and it is considered one of the most frequent childhood neurodevelopmental disorders.

Research Studies

Very little research has been done specifically on PDD-NOS over the years. Some studies discovered that children diagnosed with PPD-NOS were more likely than other ASD diagnosis to no longer show ASD symptoms as they grew older. In one study, it was found that 39% of the sample of children no longer met the criterial for ASD. In another study, it was found that of the 97 children with a PDD-NOS, 25.8% had some degree of an intellectual disability and 9.3% had an associated medical condition such as Fragile X Syndrome disorder or a hearing/visual impairment.

Signs and Symptoms

For individuals diagnosed with PDD-NOS, it is not uncommon to see a higher level of social skills. characteristics may include:

  • Challenges with social behavior
  • Uneven skills development such as high level social skills and delays in play.
  • repetitive body movement
  • Communication challenge such as recognizing facial expressions and emotions and lack of understanding figural of speech and idioms.
  • Maladaptive daydreaming and fantasies



While there is no known “cure” to treat PDD-NOS, individuals can benefit from:

  • Social stories
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Medication to treat anxiety and depression
The following links describe in more detail specific characteristics of a person with PDD-NOS:
My ASD Child
National Autism Resources

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