Heller's Syndrome is also known as Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Disintegrative Psychosis. The disorder usually afflicts children at around four years of age, and causes general mental retardation; the degeneration usually lasts several months, and is marked by the loss of social, motor, and communicative skills from previous normalcy. The disease results in a state very similar to autism.
The cause of the disease is believed to be neurological in nature. Prevention is, at this point, probably not possible due to the limited knowledge of the cause. Treatment of the condition is similar to that of autism because of the symptomatic similarities, consisting mainly of the (outdated) administration of neuroleptic drugs.
In diagnosis, the disease must be first differentiated from Schizophrenia and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Diagnosis follows identification of at least two of the following symptoms.
- loss of social skills
- loss of bowel and bladder control
- loss of expressive and/or receptive language
- loss of motor skills
- lack of play
- failure to develop relationships with peers
- degeneration or lack of verbal expression
- inability to initiate and/or sustain conversation
See also: autism, neuroleptic drugs, neurological disorders.