Autism Grown Up: What Happens to Children with CDD?

Autism Grown Up: What Happens to Children with Childhood Disintegrative Disorder?
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We often concentrate on the moment and forget to think about what happens to children with autism when they have grown up. For those who are lucky and are higher functioning, they may end up leading grand lives, renowned for their abilities and IQs. What about those lower on the spectrum or with Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, however? What happens to them?

What is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder?

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A rare disorder on the Autism Spectrum, the causes of this condition also known as Heller's Syndrome are unknown. What we do know is that a child could be developing quite normally, reaching all milestones on time, but suddenly see a steep decline, a loss in skills and abilities that he or she had mastered thus far. Social interaction and communication skills will take the largest hit, alongside a child developing behaviors which are repetitive and unnecessary. This can include flapping arms, rocking back and forth, unhealthy preoccupations with objects and activities, etc. There are no medications that directly treat childhood disintegrative disorder, but certain drugs are used to reduce violent behavior or control epileptic seizures. Behavior therapy is the best form of treatment when it comes to this particular disorder.

It is called Heller's Syndrome because a special educator in Vienna, Theodore Heller, proposed the term dementia infantilis to describe the condition. The correlation with autism is high, but one with autism need not have CDD. Those with CDD are almost always on the spectrum themselves, though. More boys than girls appear to be affected, and CDD is diagnosed in 1 in every 50-100,000 children.

Signs of Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
According to the Mayo Clinic, these are signs one should be looking for around the time a child reaches his or her 2nd birthday and afterwards, as there may be loss in:

  • Language, including a severe decline in the ability to speak and have a conversation
  • Social skills, including significant difficulty relating to and interacting with others
  • Play, including a loss of interest in imaginary play and in a variety of games and activities
  • Motor skills, including a dramatic decline in the ability to walk, climb, grasp objects and perform other movements
  • Bowel or bladder control, including frequent accidents in a child who was previously toilet trained

What Happens While CDD Children Grow Up?

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