The word ‘pervasive’ in the term ‘Pervasive Developmental Disorders’ (PDD) represents the broad range of problems that individuals diagnosed with these disorders encounter. Children with PDD are typically characterized by problems in social interaction, communication, and by stereotype behaviors. However, problems in other domains often also occur (i.e. reduced motor skills, hypersensitivity, internalizing problems, externalizing problems).
In the current study we investigated which problems are most frequently classified as ‘profound and often’ by parents of children with PDD.
At registration parents were asked to complete the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), which covers a wide range of social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Parents indicated whether a problem was 0) not present, 1) mild/occurred sometimes, or 2) profound/occurred oftenly. For each problem, the percentage of parents that scored 2 (profound/often) was calculated. Data were analyzed for categories of children in different developmental stages: pre-school, school, and adolescence.
At pre-school age, problems in the externalizing domain, such as ‘quickly changes from one activity to the other’ and ‘concentration problems’ were most prevalent (65.7% and 62.9% respectively). During the ages 6-12 both externalizing and internalizing problems were present. In adolescence, internalizing problems like ‘nervous/tense’ or ‘worries’ were most prevalent (71.4% and 61.5% respectively).
Apparently in children with PDD accompanying problems shift from externalizing to internalizing during development. Parents of children with PDD regard these accompanying problems as profound and highly present. Therefore, accompanying internalizing and externalizing problems in children with PDD need more attention and treatment of these problems might improve family functioning. The question whether these accompanying problems stem from the same etiological mechanisms as the typical PDD symptoms needs further investigations. Future research plans on the etiology of PDD and accompanying problems will be discussed.