Pathological Demand Avoidance – PDA

Pathological Demand Avoidance – PDA

What is Pathological Demand Avoidance or PDA?

Pathological Demand Avoidance or PDA is on the Autistic Spectrum. Children and young people and adults with this hidden disability are often unable to socialise or interact with people including their own friends and family in the way they themselves would love to do.

In part, this is due to a sensory overload. When faced with loud noises, crowds or any sudden expectations a child, young person or adult with PDA becomes very withdrawn or angry, unable to control their emotions or deal with the situation.

Many young people with PDA find school too difficult as it is often very loud and involves interacting with teachers and making friends. All of which children and young people with PDA long to do. However, in reality, this can be almost impossible to achieve.

Autism is dimensional, meaning individual profiles can vary considerably depending on the combination of a person’s strengths and difficulties across two key dimensions:

  • how they interact socially
  • the need for sameness and a ridged routine

The distinctive features of a demand-avoidant profile include:

  • resists and avoids the ordinary demands of life
  • uses social strategies as part of avoidance, for example, distracting, giving excuses
  • appears sociable, but lacks some understanding
  • experiences excessive mood swings and impulsivity
  • appears comfortable in role play and pretence
  • displays obsessive behaviour that is often focused on other people.

People with this profile can appear excessively controlling and dominating, especially when they feel anxious. However, they can also be confident and engaging when they feel secure and in control. It’s important to acknowledge that these people have a hidden disability.

People with a PDA profile are likely to need a lot of support. The earlier the recognition of PDA, the sooner appropriate support can be put in place.

I am happy to support families, children and young people with PDA and other disabilities to prepare and deliver a bespoke education programme to best suit your child’s requirements.

If I can help you. Please contact me on 07590395089, or email:

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