What is PDA?

In Brief

Pathological Demand Avoidance known as PDA is a behaviour profile on the Autistic Spectrum. PDA is not a universally recognised profile, but acceptance is increasing.

Children with a PDA profile struggle with meeting day-to-day demands which causes them extreme stress and anxiety.  Children with a PDA profile can exhibit extreme behaviours, particularly in social interaction which are described as pathological behaviours.

PDA in children

Children with PDA have extreme difficulties in the following areas:

  • Social Communication Difficulties
  • ​Social Interaction Difficulties
  • Restrictive and Repetitive patterns of behaviour (including sensory seeking or sensory avoiding behaviour)

The distinctive features of a demand avoidant profile include:

Diagnosis of PDA

Although PDA is not usually diagnosed, there are occasions where clinicians deem it fit to give an individual diagnosis. Children will have to meet all the criteria of an Autistic Spectrum Disorder first before a PDA diagnosis is given. This will mean that extreme behaviours are evident consistently, and varying the approach and strategies used.

Further information about PDA