Childhood disintegrative disorder
Childhood disintegrative disorder is a condition in which children develop normally through age 3 or 4. Then, over a few months, children lose language, motor, social, and other skills that they already learned.
Disintegrative psychosis; Heller syndrome
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The cause of childhood disintegrative disorder is unknown, but it has been linked to brain and nervous system problems. A child who is affected loses:
- Communication skills
- Nonverbal behaviors
- Skills they had already learned
The condition is similar to autistic disorder (autism).
- Delay or lack of spoken language
- Impairment in nonverbal behaviors
- Inability to start or maintain a conversation
- Lack of play
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Loss of language or communication skills
- Loss of motor skills
- Loss of social skills
- Problems forming relationships with other children and family members
Signs and tests
The health care provider will determine whether the child has this disorder, or a similar condition such as childhood schizophrenia or pervasive developmental disorder (autism).
The most important sign of childhood disintegrative disorder is the loss of developmental milestones. Generally, the diagnosis is made if the child has lost function in at least two areas of development.
Treatment is the same as for autistic disorder (autism) because the two disorders are similar.
One experimental treatment uses steroid medications to slow the progression of the condition.
The outlook for this disorder is poor. Most children with the condition have an impairment similar to that of children with severe autism by age 10.
Calling your health care provider
Call your provider if your child has any delays in development or starts to lose developmental abilities.
Raviola G, Gosselin GJ, Walter HJ, DeMaso DR. Pervasive developmental disorders and childhood psychosis. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 28.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. ©1997-2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Ice Falls Can Cause Serious Injuries
- 2. Can Inactivity Act Like a Disease?
- 3. Kale Snack Recipe for Diabetics
- 4. How Running Affects Arthritis
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.