Diagnosing PDA

A diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) defines the underlying developmental condition, but does little to signpost towards the specific needs and most effective interventions for a person with PDA.

PDA is increasingly being employed as a useful diagnostic term by mental health and education professionals. Those recognising the diagnosis include: National Autistic Society, Department of Education and the Autism Education Trust. 

Click here to view the Autism Education Trust's paper 'The Distinctive Clinical and Educational Needs of Children with Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome: Guidelines for Good Practice', written by Phil Christie and supported by the Department of Education.

"Diagnostically the PDA sub-group is recognisable and has implications for management and support."

Dr Judith Gould, Director of The NAS Lorna Wing Centre for Autism

Some children with Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome (PDA) would previously have been diagnosed as having 'non-typical autism / Asperger's' or 'Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified' (PDDNOS); but it is important to recognise PDA in a diagnosis because of the differences in the way children with PDA respond to the educational and handling methods that are helpful with children with typical autism or Asperger's. Click here to view guidelines for education and handling, produced by the Elizabeth Newson Centre specifically for children with PDA.

Some professionals are reluctant to diagnose PDA since it is not in the diagnostic manuals. A diagnosis of ASD can be useful, but it is important to refer to PDA or demand avoidance in the diagnostic report in order to ensure the child is offered the most appropriate support.

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