LEARNING CHALLENGES: 
autism &; pervasive developmental disorder

Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is used to refer to a group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of multiple basic functions including communication and socialization. The three hallmark characteristics of PDD include a pattern of restrictive, repetitive behaviour, interests and activities, a qualitative impairment in reciprocal social interaction and a qualitative impairment in verbal and nonveral communication or functioning. Autism is considered to be one type of PDD but there are several other types, including Asperger's syndrome; PDD not otherwise specified (NOS), and atypical autism. It is estimated that twice as many children have PDD as have autism.

School psychologists have specific expertise to assess these students and to provide a diagnosis. They also will work closely with parents, teachers, and community support agencies to determine the best educational placement for the child and to help design an individualized program to meet the unique needs of the child.

Psychological Services of the Toronto District School Board has developed a Psychological Assessment Checklist for PDD and Autism outlining best practice for the assessment and diagnosis of this condition. This document is in PDF format, and requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader to be opened. If you do not have this program, you can download a free copy fromwww.adobe.com.

Useful Resources:

Geneva Centre for Autism

Center for the Study of Autism

ASPEN: Asperger Syndrome Education Network

OASIS: Online Aspergers Syndrome Information and Support

The Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders