Definition

Heller's syndrome or (childhood disintegrative disorder) is a condition in which young children develop normally until age 3 or 4, but then demonstrate a severe loss of social, communication and other skills.

Diagnosis

A child affected with childhood disintegrative disorder displays normal development, generally up to an age of 2 years, and he/she acquires "normal development of age-appropriate verbal and nonverbal communication, social relationships, motor, play and self-care skills" comparable to other children of the same age. However, from around the age of 2 through the age of 10, skills acquired are lost almost completely in at least two of the following six functional areas: language skills, receptive language skills, social and self-care skills, control over bowel and bladder, play skills, and motor skills.

Treatment

There is no cure for Heller's syndrome. Treatment for this disorder is basically the same as for autism, such as medications and behavior therapy.

Symptoms

There's no known cause of Heller's syndrome. The disorder may occur suddenly over the course of days to weeks or gradually over an extended period of time.

Causes

A formal and comprehensive evaluation is performed by a team of doctors and health care specialists that often includes a child psychologist, a child psychiatrist, a doctor who specializes in conditions of the brain and nervous system (neurologist), a pediatrician specializing in behavioral and developmental problems, a hearing specialist (audiologist), a speech therapist, a physical therapist and an occupational therapist.