Those familiar with autism are perhaps also familiar with the designation PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified), but I don’t think many understand that autism is itself a PDD.
I can provide some very specific examples of the degree to which autism is both pervasive and a developmental disorder.
Most people associate autism with being a communication/social disorder, but the fact of the matter is that it very often affects the body itself in a variety of ways. The fact that autism is a different form of neural construction and information processing should make us not all that surprised that other parts of the body are affected. The gut, for example, is often strongly affected in many of us on the spectrum. My son and I both have gut problems. As I have written about before, our apparent glutamate-glutamine imbalance results in leaky gut, which results in an immune response to gluten. Taking daily glutamine has helped us both. The leaky gut is an aspect of our autism, but it is at least treatable with glutamine supplements.
But there are other factors at play. I have come to understand autism as potentially neotenous, meaning the retention of infant traits while still continuing to develop into a sexually mature adult. In my case, that has meant developmentally underdeveloped heels and arches, meaning I have considerable physical pain in my feet. I also have twisted femurs such that my hip joints rub, also causing pain (especially if a strong low pressure system comes in), which may be related to the DPP since it is in fact a developmental problem.
I’ve also never been particularly coordinated. I’m not outright clumsy, but I’m nowhere near being able to be an athlete, and I never have been. Daniel is much the same way. Poor coordination is a common element among those on the autism spectrum, and it’s part of the PDD aspect of it.
Feet pain, hips pain, gut pain — all seem part and parcel of my own autism. So in my case not only do I have to deal with communication breakdowns and various misunderstandings, but a considerable amount of physical pain and diet restrictions as well. All just part of the fun of being on the spectrum.