Pervasive Developmental Disorder: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 4/28/2020

Pervasive developmental disorder is a term that refers to a group of conditions, also called PDDs, in which children exhibit delays in the development of many basic skills. Most affected are the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination. These conditions are usually apparent by around age 3. Autism is an example of a pervasive development disorder.

Signs and symptoms of PDDs can vary in severity and depend on the exact type of disorder that is present. Associated symptoms and signs can include

  • problems with using and understanding language;
  • difficulty relating to people, objects, and events;
  • unusual play with toys and other objects;
  • difficulty with changes in routine or familiar surroundings; and
  • repetitive body movements or behaviors.

Causes of pervasive developmental disorder

Doctors do not understand the cause of pervasive developmental disorders.

Other pervasive developmental disorder symptoms and sign

  • Difficulty Relating to People, Objects, and Events
  • Difficulty With Changes in Routine or Familiar Surroundings
  • Problems With Using and Understanding Language
  • Repetitive Body Movements or Behaviors
  • Unusual Play With Toys and Other Objects


Autism is a developmental disability. See Answer

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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.