Happy Learners - PDA

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Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome (PDA)

This is an anxiety disorder closely related to autism first described by Professor Elizabeth Newson in the 1980's. PDA is also known as Newson's Syndrome. There is still considerable debate over whether PDA is a separate condition from autism or a sub-type within the umbrella term of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, the diagnostic criteria for PDA does identify a group of children who appear to have distinct characteristics from ASD and this can be very useful for parents and professional staff supporting the child.

Status of PDA

There is no officially agreed diagnosis of PDA. It does not appear in either the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-V) or International Classification of Diseases (ICD 10). This makes it difficult for professionals involved in diagnosing behavioural disorders to give a PDA diagnosis.

Presentation of PDA

Diagnosing PDA

As discussed above, PDA does not have a national or internationally agreed criteria for diagnosis and professionals maybe unwilling or unable to give PDA as a formal diagnosis. Children presented at clinic are most likely to be given a diagnosis of ASD and possibly Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Less frequently the child may get a diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Sometimes 'Demand Avoidance' is listed as a co-morbid problem alongside what ever diagnosis is given.


PDA Presentation 1 - What is PDA?

What is PDA?

Presentation 1 focusses on the history of the condition and information about diagnosis.

PDA Presentation 2 - PDA Avoidance Behaviours

PDA Avoidance Behaviours

Presentation 2 focusses on behaviours that PDA children use to avoid demands made of them.

PDA Presentation 3 - PDA and School

PDA and School

Presentation 3 examines how PDA children struggle in school and how school's struggle with PDA children.

PDA Presentation 4 - PDA Management Strategies

PDA Management Strategies

Presentation 4 explores ten strategies for managing PDA children.

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Managing PDA