March 7, 2011

What is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder?

Posted in Category : Natural Cures

Childhood disintegrative disorder, also referred to as Heller’s Syndrome, can be described as a condition that is very similar to autism. Children normally develop this condition when they are between the ages of 2 and 4, after which, they display a significant decline in social and communication skills. Like autism, in childhood disintegrative disorder, a child may display normal development for a while, before showing a considerable loss of communication, language, play, motor, and social skills. However, unlike autism, which can be seen in younger children too, childhood disintegrative disorder generally becomes evident only after the child is three years old. However, the loss of skills seen in Childhood disintegrative disorder is a lot more severe, as compared to autism. Moreover, studies indicate that childhood disintegrative disorder is less common than autism is.


There is no specific known cause for this condition, but it is believed that genetic factors are one of the most important causes of childhood disintegrative disorder. This abnormal gene is usually ‘switched on’ during the early years of development, like even before birth. Some of the factors that could contribute to this problem include exposure to toxins and infections. Autoimmune responses could also play a major role in the development of childhood disintegrative disorder.


It is not difficult to recognize childhood disintegrative disorder in most children, because of the various signs and symptoms that have been associated with the condition. However, very often this condition is mistaken for autism, as some of the symptoms are quite similar. Given below are some of the most common symptoms of childhood disintegrative disorder:

  • The decline in language skills, where the child does not show the ability to speak or have a conversation with others
  • Problems with social skills, where the child shows difficulty in interacting with others or relating to them.
  • Absence of imagination during play time, which becomes evident during games and activities
  • A severe decline in the ability to walk, grip objects, climb, and so on
  • Frequent accidents in a child that seemed to be potty trained earlier on

The total loss of several developmental milestones may occur gradually, or may be seen over a period of time. Since the loss of any developmental milestone can cause a lot of concern in parents, it is only natural for them to consult a doctor when this happens. In order to confirm if the child is indeed suffering from childhood disintegrative disorder, the doctor may need to conduct a few tests, to ensure that the child does indeed meet the criteria that have been set by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).


As soon as it is confirmed that a child meets the childhood disintegrative disorder DSM standards, the doctor may begin the treatment of the condition. Unfortunately, there is no way to cure this disorder. However, the treatment that is used for this condition is quite similar to the type that is used in the treatment of autism. First of all, children may be given certain medication to help control any behavior problems that may be evident in them, such as aggression, depression, and so on. In addition to medication, behavior therapy may also be used by different types of therapists (speech, physical, and occupational) as well as psychologists. However, parents, teachers, and caregivers also play an important role in the success of behavior therapy. Children that suffer from this problem generally require lifelong care and support and may also have to take up residence in a medical facility in the long run. All instances of childhood disintegrative disorder should be closely monitored by a doctor.