Childhood disintegrative disorder, also known
as Heller’s syndrome and disintegrative psychosis, is a rare condition
characterized by late onset, usually at three years of age onward.
It typically features developmental delays in language, social function,
and motor skills. Researchers have not been successful in finding
a cause for the disorder.
Childhood disintegrative disorder, has some similarity to autism,
but an apparent period of fairly normal development is often noted
before a regression in skills or a series of regressions in skills.
Many children are already somewhat delayed when the illness becomes
apparent, but these delays are not always obvious in young children.
The age at which this regression can occur varies, and can be between
the ages of two to ten, with the definition of this onset depending
largely on the opinion of those making the diagnosis.
Regression can be very sudden, and the child may even voice concern
about what is happening, much to the parent’s surprise. Some children
describe or appear to be reacting to hallucinations, but the most
obvious symptom is that skills apparently attained are lost. This
has been described by many writers as a devastating condition, affecting
both the family and the individual’s future. As is the case with
all Autism Spectrum Disorders, there is considerable controversy
around the right treatment for Childhood disintegrative disorder.
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