Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 497–504 | Cite as

Brief Report: Childhood Disintegrative Disorder: A Brief Examination of Eight Case Studies

  • Kendra J. Homan
  • Michael W. Mellon
  • Daniel Houlihan
  • Maja Z. Katusic
Brief Report


Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) is a rare condition characterized by distinct regression of developmental and behavioral functioning following a period of apparently normal development for at least 2 years. The purpose of this article is to present the developmental, behavioral, psychosocial, and medical histories of eight children who have been diagnosed with CDD in an attempt to advance the understanding of this rare disorder. Results indicate the average age of onset was 3.21 years. Three cases reported an insidious onset while two cases exhibited acute onset. Developmental and behavioral milestones were met at age appropriate times in each case and significant deterioration of formerly acquired skills and abnormalities in functioning were clinically present in all eight cases.


Childhood disintegrative disorder Pervasive developmental disorder 


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th edn, text revised). Washington, DC: Author.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bray, M. A., Kehle, T. J., Theodore, L. A., & Broudy, M. S. (2002). Case study of childhood disintegrative disorder—Heller’s syndrome. Psychology in the Schools, 39, 101–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bruininks, R., Woodcock, R., Weatherman, R., & Hill, B. (1997). Scales of independent behavior-revised. Rolling Meadows, IL: Riverside Publishing.Google Scholar
  4. Burd, L., Fisher, W., & Kerbeshian, J. (1987). A prevalence study of pervasive developmental disorders in North Dakota. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 26, 700–703.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burd, L., Ivey, M., Barth, A., & Kerbeshian, J. (1998). Two males with childhood disintegrative disorder: A prospective 14-year outcome study. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 40, 702–707.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chakrabarti, S., & Fombonne, E. (2001). Pervasive developmental disorders in preschool children. Journal of the American Medical Association, 285, 3093–3099.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Corbett, J., Harris, R., Taylor, E., & Trimble, M. (1977). Progressive disintegrative psychosis of childhood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 18, 211–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Creak, E. M. (1963). Childhood psychosis: A review of 100 cases. British Journal of Psychiatry, 109, 84–89.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fombonne, E. (2002). Prevalence of childhood disintegrative disorder. Autism, 6, 149–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Frombonne, E. (2009). Epidemiology of pervasive developmental disorders. Pediatric Research, 65, 591–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hulse, W. C. (1954). Dementia infantilis. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 119, 471–477.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kurita, H., Osada, H., & Miyake, Y. (2004). External validity of childhood disintegrative disorder in comparison with autistic disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34, 355–362.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lord, C., Rutter, M., DiLavore, P. C., & Risi, S. (2002). Autism diagnostic observations schedule. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  14. Magnusson, P., & Saemundsen, E. (2001). Prevalence of autism in Iceland. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 31, 153–163.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Malhotra, S., & Grupta, N. (1999). Childhood disintegrative disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29, 491–498.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Malmud, N. (1959). Heller’s disease and childhood schizophrenia. American Journal of Psychiatry, 116, 215–218.Google Scholar
  17. Matson, J. L. (2010). Autism spectrum disorders and comorbid psychopathology. SciTopics. Retrieved May 5, 2010, from
  18. Mouridsen, S. E., Rich, B., & Isager, T. (1998). Validity of childhood disintegrative psychosis: General findings of a long-term follow-up study. British Journal of Psychiatry, 172, 263–267.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Palomo, R., Thompson, M., Colombi, C., Cook, I., Goldring, S., Young, G. S., et al. (2008). A case study of childhood disintegrative disorder using systematic analysis of family home movies. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 1853–1858.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rivinus, T. M., Jamison, D. L., & Graham, P. J. (1975). Childhood organic neurological disease presenting as a psychological disorder. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 50, 115–119.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sponheim, E., & Skjeldal, O. (1998). Autism and related disorders: Epidemiological findings in a Norwegian study using ICD-10 diagnostic criteria. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 28, 217–227.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Volkmar, F. R. (1992). Childhood disintegrative disorder: Issues for DSM-IV. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders Special Issue: Classification and Diagnosis, 22, 625–642.Google Scholar
  23. Volkmar, F. R., & Cohen, D. J. (1989). Disintegrative disorder or “late onset” autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 30, 717–724.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Volkmar, F. R., Klin, A., Marans, W., & Cohen, D. J. (1997). Childhood disintegrative disorder. In D. J. Cohen & F. R. Volkmar (Eds.), Handbook of autism and pervasive developmental disorders (2nd ed., pp. 47–58). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  25. Volkmar, F. R., Koenig, K., & State, M. (2005). Childhood disintegrative disorder. In F. R. Volkmar, R. Paul, A. Klin, & D. Cohen (Eds.), Handbook of autism and pervasive developmental disorders: Diagnosis, development, neurobiology and behavior (3rd ed., pp. 70–87). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  26. Volkmar, F. R., Lord, C., Bailey, A., Schultz, R. T., & Klin, A. (2004). Autism and pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 135–170.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Volkmar, F. R., & Rutter, M. (1995). Childhood disintegrative disorder: Results of the autism field trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 34, 1092–1095.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wechsler, D. (1991). Wechsler intelligence scale for children third edition manual. New York: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  29. Woodcock, R. W., McGrew, K. S., & Mather, N. (2001). Woodcock-Johnson III. Itasca, IL: Riverside.Google Scholar
  30. Zwaigenbaum, L., Szatmari, P., Mahoney, W., Bryson, S., Bartolucci, G., & MacLean, J. (2000). High functioning autism and childhood disintegrative disorder in half brothers. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30, 121–126.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kendra J. Homan
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Michael W. Mellon
    • 1
    • 3
  • Daniel Houlihan
    • 2
  • Maja Z. Katusic
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and PsychologyMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMinnesota State University at MankatoMankatoUSA
  3. 3.Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical PsychologyCincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical CenterCincinnatiUSA
  4. 4.LeMarsUSA

Personalised recommendations