While very similar, in reality, CDD (a version of childhood dementia) and autism are very different from each other. Let’s discover the differences together!
Autism is a permanent developmental condition that influences a child’s perception of the world and their interaction with others. Autism causes challenges in day to day life through challenges with social skills, speech, and nonverbal communication.
Autism cannot be classified as a disease or an illness. In fact, it is described as a spectrum condition. Spectrum refers to the theory that there is not one, but many types of autism. The term spectrum refers to the unique challenges faced by different people with autism. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders describe three main criterions for autism:
(1) Weak social interaction
(2) Weak communication
(3) Repetitive and/or stereotyped behavior patterns
Previously termed as dementia infantilis, the childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) is now known as Heller’s syndrome as named by Austrian educator Theodore Heller. CDD is a rare childhood developmental disorder that is associated with a sudden and severe loss of language, communication, and social skills in children. CDD is classified as amongst the 5 major autistic disorders known as the autism spectrum disorder.
CDD breaks one of the myths about dementia that it is only caused in elders. Although very rare, dementia infantilis is a very real condition prevalent amongst many children nowadays. It is also common amongst CDD children to experience seizures due to malfunction in the brain.
Children associated with CDD will experience at least two of the below symptoms:
- Sudden onset of interaction issues with others
- Regression of playtime and imagination
- Severe regression in ability to speak and communicate
- Loss of potty training leading to bladder and bowel accidents.
Loss of memory, as well as speech, can also be due to the insulin levels dropping in the brain. It may be possible to improve and protect the infant brain from future regression by giving him/her a spoonful of coconut oil every day.
Differences between Autism and CDD/ dementia infantilis
Both conditions are classified under the autism spectrum disorder due to the similarity of some symptoms. In fact, CDD used to be wrongly referred to as late onset of autism. CDD patients have previously been misdiagnosed as autism. However, in reality, CDD and autism are very different from each other.
Some major differences amongst them are:
- Autism develops early in a child’s life. At 2-4, years a correct diagnosis can be made regarding autism. Sometimes, symptoms start to appear as early as 18 months.
However, CDD although classified under the umbrella of the autism spectrum, tends to develop much later, usually at the age of 10 and above. CDD patients experience normal development before a sudden onset of loss of developmental skills.
- Autism and CDD are both persisting conditions but CDD is also a regressive one. Autistic patients show impairments that are not exacerbated usually. However, CDD patients experience a severe and sudden regression of acquired skills in a short span of time. For instance, in CDD, the person may experience a loss of the vocabulary previously acquired. Gradually he/she will also be impaired in learning new words.
- Autism is a currently a common condition with one in 68 children in the US being affected by it. However, CDD is a very rare condition and 1 out of 100,000 children are affected by it with 4 times more boys being affected than girls.
- CDD is so rare that research has been very difficult. A sample size cannot be made easily with CDD. However, autism is very common and a large amount of research has been done on it. However, no accurate findings and causes have been discovered for either condition.
- CDD patients start to suffer from regular seizures. This is not the case with autism patients.
- In autism, the social interaction aspect was never there for patients. Autism is diagnosed at 2 years as that is when children start forming relationships. However, the ability to socially interact is absent in autism patients since birth. However, in CDD, the patient experiences a sudden loss of interest in the environment and people. This means he/she was completely normal before a sudden loss of vital skills.
Early diagnosis of a neuro condition is vital for treatment, slow progression, and in some cases, regression. It may be possible to conduct brain tests and brain scans on babies to see if there are any chances of developing an autistic or CDD condition. An MRI may be able to shed some light of a prevailing risk of autism or dementia in a child.
Currently, no research has been able to prove the causes of CDD or of autism. Moreover, no research has been able to actively prove that both conditions are linked in any way. However, they may share many symptoms as well as similarities genes; but additional research is required for a more conclusive proof. It may still take decades worth of research to reach any conclusive cause, symptom, and diagnoses of autism and CDD.
Kamil Riaz Kara is a Writer and Inbound Marketer. He has completed his Masters in Administrative Science from the University of Karachi. Currently, he is writing on health, education, fitness and lifestyle. Visit his company blog and check the latest posts on Crohn’s Disease. Connect him on LinkedIn for more details.