Autism Spectrum Disorders

Pervasive Developmental Disorders (including Autism and Asperger Syndrome)


What are Pervasive Developmental Disorders?

Pervasive Developmental Disorders refer to a group of five disorders characterised by lifelong difficulties with social communication, social reciprocity, and sensory processing. The pervasive developmental disorders are: autism spectrum disorders (autism, asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, and childhood disintegrative disorder) and Rett syndrome.

Pervasive developmental disorders also include people with a “subthreshold autism”, such as someone who shows only some of characteristics of autism or who has relatively mild symptoms. For instance, a person may have significant autism symptoms in one area (for example, communication or social deficits), but mild or no symptoms in another area such as restricted and repetitive behaviors. This is a very common aspect as the diagnosis of autism is recent and many adults with mild symptoms are currently not recognised and not correctly diagnosed.

What are the symptoms of Pervasive Developmental Disorders?

The main symptoms of pervasive developmental disorders are:

  • deficits in social communication and socialisation
  • repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.

These deficits usually start in early childhood. Some autistic individuals learn to compensate and adapt themselves to social and working situations, but they often have substantial social, sensory and flexibility difficulties that impact negatively on their daily living and overall well-being.

Many of these difficulties are connected to their atypical behaviors and communication styles, and these challenges can cause high levels of depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and anorexia nervosa in the person.

How Seed Psychology can help

Seed Psychology offers psychological sessions for individuals with a pervasive developmental disorder or who suspects to have one. These sessions can also be very helpful for friends and family of a person who shows pervasive developmental disorders’ symptoms, in order to improve their communication style with the person. By working together to improve social and communication skills, we will help the person feel more comfortable in social and work/school environments. Through talking and other techniques, the individual becomes more aware of their difficulties and builds new skills in order to overcome them.

Written by Dr Chiara Paganini, Clinical Psychologist at Seed Psychology