In the multiaxial classification of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders, (2) specific developmental disorders are classified on the second axis named 'Specific disorders of psychological development', whereas pervasive developmental disorders are classified on the first axis (clinical psychiatric syndromes).

Based on the history and course of the disorders, two types can be distinguished.

• Disorders in which a phase of previously normal development has occurred prior to manifestation of the disorder. This, for example, applies to the Landau-Kleffner syndrome.

• An additional condition in which the abnormality was present from birth. This is especially true for autism. Autism is classified in the category 'pervasive developmental disorders', which are discussed elsewhere.

In DSM-IV, (3) nomenclature is somewhat different, but generally includes disorders identical or similar to those in ICD-10. In DSM-IV, 'communication disorders' correspond to 'specific developmental disorders of speech and language'. However, they also include stuttering, which is not included in the corresponding category of ICD-10.

'Learning disorders' (DSM-IV) is the category that corresponds to specific developmental disorders of scholastic skills, and 'motor skills disorder' to 'specific disorders of motor function'.

Figure 1, shows a decision tree which includes the three main areas of dysfunction and addresses diagnosis and differential diagnosis.

Fig. 1 Specific developmental disorders (CNS, central nervous system).

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