Difference between aspergers and PDD-NOS?

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28 Oct 2021, 8:04 am

Pervasive Developmental Disorder vs Autism: Is There A Difference? By Andréas RB Deolinda, BA, BSc

Pervasive developmental disorder is a condition that involves a group of challenges, mainly centered around delays or difficulties with social and communication skills. Symptoms may show before the age of three years and can include, but are not limited to, difficulty in using and understanding language, difficulty relating to people, objects, or events, and difficulty with adapting to changes in routine or familiar surroundings.

Pervasive developmental disorder is a subtype of autism spectrum disorder but we should note that PDD is diagnosed in individuals who meet some but not all criteria of ASD. In layman’s terms, people with PDD tend to display mild ASD symptoms. For this reason, PDD is often also termed atypical autism.

In the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-4), pervasive developmental disorders were divided into five subtypes, which included: autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and PDD-NOS.

Following updates by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to the newer DSM–5, autism disorder, asperger disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder are now classified under the single diagnostic label of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Is PDD the same as autism?
Well, according to the updated DSM-5, the answer is technically “yes”. However, some people disagree with this as, although there is an overlap in the features or characteristics of autism and pervasive developmental disorder, there are distinct features that set them apart. For example, people with PDD do not typically meet the criteria for “classical” or “traditional” autism (Shaikh et al., 2020) but are framed as being on the autism spectrum. That is to say that PDD-NOS and asperger syndrome are both included under the same umbrella of autism spectrum disorder.

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DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity.

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


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28 Oct 2021, 8:08 am

PDD-NOS was an all-encompassing diagnosis (Pre-DSM V) for those who were obviously on the "spectrum," yet who did not fully meet the diagnostic criteria for either Autistic Disorder, Asperger's Syndrome, or any other Spectrum Disorder.

The severity of symptoms within people within PDD-NOS can range from very mild to very severe. One could be PDD-NOS and be wheelchair-bound and not toilet trained. One could be PDD-NOS and be a great intellectual.


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30 Oct 2021, 7:36 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
I would agree that PDD-NOS used to be diagnosed quite frequently when doctors "didn't know exactly what they were dealing with."

Sort of a catch-all, vague sort of diagnosis.

I've actually seen it diagnosed when somebody was severely impaired in all ways, yet did not meet all the criteria for autism.

Yeah. PDD NOS is my official dx, and I had no language delay and have always come across as high functioning, but the only other person I've met IRL with the same official dx was a girl who also had cerebral palsy and profound cognitive disability, and wasn't a high enough developmental level to show all the autism symptoms (eg social and language impairment - you expect significant impairment anyway with profound cognitive disability and she didn't show any obvious skill scatter), but the ones she was capable of showing (stimming, need for routine, etc) were very pronounced. So it's pretty clearly a catch-all.


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31 Oct 2021, 9:59 am

Sweetleaf, What is the symbol on your avatar?

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