PDD-NOS and Autism

I thought I would post today about the signs and symptoms of PDD-NOS and Autism because my daughter has PDD-NOS and has had signs since she was about 2. She was not formally diagnosed with PDD-NOS until recently. I never put two and two together and neither did anyone else she was around(including many teachers, speech therapists etc). All I ever was told was that she was "different", "she doesn't act normal", "isn't like the other children", "doesn't listen or behave" etc. Everyone made her out to be some kind of freak who just wouldn't listen and misbehaved on purpose. I knew this was not the case and something more was going on. A few years ago, a psychologist said she had a few autism traits but not enough to diagnose as autism and that she was just stubborn! So I let things go because I thought "well, hes a professional, he knows what he's talking about".

Then this year, she started Kindergarten. Initially, everything seemed okay except she was having problems with transitioning from recess back inside. Months into the school year, her teacher called me to inform me she was misbehaving, not following directions, refusing to do work etc. She wanted to know if I knew what to do to help her and really, I did not. After more calls and in speaking with her teacher, I decided that enough is enough and I was going to make an appointment to get her evaluated again.

After getting her evaluated, I was told she was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified(PDD-NOS) and ADHD traits. It was explained to me that this was an autism spectrum disorder. I was shocked but everything fit. I was more shocked that the previous psychologist didn't pick up on this plus the school(and 2 previous preschools, including 1 that was a special needs school) didn't say a word about this could possibly be autism etc.

We will be working with a behavioral therapist and a TSS so we can try to manage her behaviors.

The Signs and Symptoms

Easily distracted(my daughter is easily distracted by objects and surroundings)

Difficulty starting projects(very hard to get her to start something but once you do, she's usually okay.)

Perfectionism(oh my yes, if she can't do it perfectly, she won't at all)

 Shut down response to multi-tasking or certain demands(if something overwhelms her, she just shuts down and it's impossible to get her to continue usually)

Fixation on a certain narrow topic of interest(yep, it can change daily or weekly etc but she becomes obsessed with TV shows, activities and toys. For those periods of time, it's all she will talk about or do)

 Literal interpretation of instruction (sarcasm, idioms, etc)(She doesn't understand sarcasm at all. We once were working on some homework of hers and she was making careless mistakes. I said to her "Use your head"...You guessed it..she took the paper and put it on her head.

Preference for visual instructions(she learns and understands so much more when something is visual in front of her)

 Dependence on step-by-step procedures(She gets too overwhelmed if you don't go step by step with her)

 Preference for predictability and simple routines(YES YES AND YES-She loves routine and knowing what to expect. If something happens to deviate from that routine, she gets very upset)

 Impulsiveness(She cannot control her emotions so she's very impulsive. She will hit me when angry and such and then 5 minutes later say she's sorry)

Difficulty with organization(She's way messy and disorganized. Loses items frequently)

 Difficulty understanding cause and effect and consequences(She has no concept of if you behave, good things happen. If you misbehave, there are consequences)

 Difficulty with writing tasks(She becomes overwhelmed with writing and usually shuts down unless you go step by step)

Difficulty Expressing Emotions(Nearly impossible to get her to talk about what shes feeling)

 Rage, tantrum, shut down, self-isolating reactions(Already has been described above)

 Difficulty understanding and reading the thoughts and feelings of others (facial expressions, body language, sympathy, etc)

 Difficulty accepting criticism or correction(She will think you just don't love her, when it's the behaviors you don't like)

 Strong expression of likes and dislikes(She is very extreme. If she likes or dislikes something, you will certainly know)

 Difficulty understanding social rules and difficulty forming friendships(Very hard for her)

 Poor understanding of rules of conversation(Doesn't understand that conversations go two ways. It's all about what she has to say)

 Insensitivity to non-verbal cues of others(Yes)

 Sensitivities to touch, tactile sensations, sounds, lighting, colors, odors, taste(Very much so. Tags on shirts, things are too loud, too bright, socks have to be put on a certain way etc)

Gross or fine motor coordination problems(Yes)

 Anxiety(She has a lot of anxiety)

 Difficulty initiating and/or maintaining eye contact(When speaking to her, she has a hard time maintaining eye contact)

 Strong food preferences and aversions and rigidity to eating behaviors(Only eats certain foods)

 Certain textures of clothing may be irritating (tags in clothing also are overly bothersome)

 Bothered by certain noises, or no reaction to noise

 Rocking when sitting, hand flapping, or other stimulating behaviors(When sitting on the floor to watch TV, she will rock. At school, she stimulates herself by going under a table and barking like a dog :(

*Please note that the above is not a complete list of signs and symptoms.*

PLEASE, don't be naive like I was. If you think there is something more going on with your child than just them being stubborn or not listening, PLEASE get them evaluated by a professional and ALWAYS get a second opinion. My daughters second opinion helped us to get the help she needed desperately and with lots of work, we are very hopeful that as she grows up, she will not have so many difficulties.


Meredith said…
these signs are super interesting to me. i watch for signs in my little an (he's almost 2) just to be on the safe side, but so far i'm not seeing any of these. thanks so much for this inclusive list though! good luck, sounds like she's doing well so far:)

DDMom said…
Hi! Thanks for posting this. My son is almost four and has also been diagnosed PDD-NOS. He has been in therapies for about a year ABA, Speech, OT, Prag Groups and it has helped him a lot. Not too long ago we started going to a biomedical doctor - got on a gluten free diet and his speech has improved dramatically. :)
Hi there,
I found you from the bloghop.
I have 21 year old twins that are PDD-NOS, and a 19 year old that is Aspergers. God's blessings to you!
My blog is actually a coupon blog. If you are on the lookout for coupons and savings, please stop by.
Anne from Good Steward Savers!

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