What is a diagnosis?
A diagnosis is the formal identification of PDA, usually by a professional such as a paediatrician, psychologist or psychiatrist. Recognition of PDA as a condition is fairly recent, and the apparent social abilities of many children with PDA may mask their problems. As a result, many children are not diagnosed until they are older. They may already have had a suggested diagnosis of autism or Asperger Syndrome but parents may feel that something about that diagnosis didn't quite fit. It is usually the surface sociability and the often vivid imaginations of children with PDA which confuse professionals regarding the autism spectrum diagnosis.
Having a diagnosis of PDA is helpful for a number of reasons:
- It helps people with PDA (and their families) to understand why they experience certain difficulties and what they can do about them.
- It allows people to access services, support and appropriate advice about management strategies.
- It avoids other incorrect diagnoses (e.g. attachment anxiety disorder, ODD, emotional and behavioural problems or having a wilful and naughty child).
- It warns local authorities that this diagnosis can sometimes result a high exclusion rate unless sufficient support is provided.
One of the most important reasons for distinguishing PDA from other conditions is to ensure that the child receives the correct educational approach. Best practice differs fundamentally between children with PDA and children with autism. The use of structured teaching methods, which are so successful for people with autism and Asperger Syndrome, are usually much less helpful for people with PDA.