Other related characteristics

Sensory sensitivities

Just as in autism and Asperger Syndrome, people with PDA can often experience over or under-sensitivity in any of their senses: sight, smell, taste, touch or hearing.

Other conditions and areas of overlap

PDA is often diagnosed alongside other conditions, such as ADHD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia. This may be a result of overlapping conditions but can also be due to confusion over the diagnosis. Before being diagnosed with PDA, some people will have already been diagnosed with autism, ASD, PDD-NOS or Atypical autism. PDA can also be present alongside more generalised learning difficulties and, at times, the apparent verbal fluency of people with PDA can mask genuine difficulties in understanding.

Severe behavioural difficulties

A large proportion of, but not all, people with PDA can have real problems controlling their temper. As children, this can take the form of prolonged tantrums and violent outbursts, as well as less dramatic avoidance strategies like distraction, giving excuses etc. It is essential to see these outbursts as extreme anxiety or 'panic attacks' and to treat them as such, with reassurance, calming strategies and de-escalation techniques.

Sometimes a child with PDA can appear very anxious at home but remain relatively passive at school (a learnt coping strategy). In situations like this, parents are likely to feel very isolated and inadequate. In other cases, outbursts are far worse at school, where demands may be much greater, and this can lead to multiple exclusions at an early age. For some children, this anxiety can develop to such an extent that they become school refusers.

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