Documentary to Look at Children with Developmental Disorders

Research for TV project highlighting the need for improved care and support for children with Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD) and their families

Starting in 1999, two documentary filmmakers spent five months on the research and development of a documentary television series on the need for improved care and support for children with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD).

PDD is a class of chronic and disabling neurological disorders, related to autism, that causes extreme language delays and lifelong difficulties and requires intensive management.

The proposed TV documentary series was planned to:

  • Explain the challenges faced by late-talking children and their families.
  • Provide crucial information to parents of children with PDD.
  • Showcase the latest research on PDD.
  • And explore how well the U.S. health care and educational systems provide support for these children and their families.

The project director, Vivian Ducat, and the director of research, Ray Segal, are documentary filmmakers who have worked extensively for PBS, the BBC, ABC News, and other broadcast outlets.

Key Results

In the course of this project, Ducat:

  • Interviewed parents of children with PDD, individuals with PDD, and members of local groups dedicated to improving the lives of these children and adult.
  • Met with prominent experts on PDDs undetermined causes and treatment.
  • Interviewed presenters, lay-people, and attending researchers and other professionals in the field of neurological disorders at a 1999 meeting of the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders.
  • Met with administrators of programs benefiting the developmentally disable.
  • Conducted site visits across the country to explore the services currently available in the United States, including visits to the Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, Conn.
  • Wrote a proposal for a half-hour show on the topic of PDD at the request of the executive director of Health Week, a nationally distributed PBS program.