Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

There's no cure for childhood disintegrative disorder. Treatment for the disorder is basically the same as for autism. Treatments to relieve or lessen symptoms may include:

  • Medications. There are no medications that directly treat childhood disintegrative disorder. However, severe behavior concerns that can threaten safety, such as excessive impulsiveness or repetitive movements, may sometimes be controlled by medications for anxiety or depression, or antipsychotic medications. Anticonvulsant drugs may help control epileptic seizures.
  • Behavior therapy. This therapy technique may be used by psychologists, speech therapists, physical therapists and occupational therapists, as well as parents, teachers and caregivers. Behavior therapy programs may be designed to help your child relearn or minimize the loss of language, social and self-care skills. These programs use a system of rewards to reinforce desirable behaviors and discourage problem behavior. A consistent approach among all health care team members, caregivers and teachers is important in behavior therapy.

Although abilities and behaviors vary greatly for children with childhood disintegrative disorder, the outcome is worse than for children with autism. The loss of language, cognitive, social and self-care skills tends to be severe and unlikely to improve. Children with the disorder generally need lifelong support with the activities of daily living, and may eventually need residential care in a group home or long-term care facility.

March 06, 2013