Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 459-482

First online:

Classification of pervasive developmental disorders: Some concepts and practical considerations

  • Michael RutterAffiliated withInstitute of Psychiatry, University of London
  • , Eric SchoplerAffiliated withDivision TEACCH Administration and Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Classifications have to meet a variety of purposes: Clinical and research needs are different and there is much to be said for separate clinical and research schemes. Care is needed to ensure that classifications provide an appropriate medium for teaching about diagnosis and do not cause difficulties when used as a “passport” to resources. Principles of classification are considered in relation to the need to take course, as well as symptomatology, into account, and with respect to the neuropsychiatric interface. The value of a multiaxial approach is noted. The pros and cons of autism and pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) as an overall descriptive term, of lumping or splitting, and of different choices with respect to PDD subcategories are discussed.