This paper represents the first step in analysing and reporting on data gathered between 2015 and 2017 on 351 children referred to Dr Judy Eaton’s clinic for assessment for Autism. The first part of the paper reports the differences that were found in the scores on Module 3 of the ADOS-2 (one of the tools used to diagnose Autism) between those children who went on to receive a diagnosis of Autism and those who received a diagnosis of Autism with a PDA profile.
The second part of the paper reports on the ‘themes’ that emerged when comparing the developmental histories of autistic children with a PDA profile and non-autistic children who had a history of attachment difficulties. A number of these ‘themes’ were seen infrequently, if ever, in those children with documented early trauma or attachment difficulties. ‘Themes’ included those previously identified in the existing literature, plus a number of interesting new findings.
Dr. Eaton told us “We are not claiming that our data provides proof of the PDA profile as a separate diagnostic category. However, it does add to the body of evidence which suggests that there is a distinct pattern of behaviour that is observed in children with the PDA profile.”
A new article by Elizabeth O’Nions and Judy Eaton has also been published in the Paediatrics and Child Health Journal. It can be accessed here and via Liz O’Nions’s research website. Help for Psychology has also written this summary.
In this article, Liz O’Nions and Judy Eaton provide an overview of PDA, discuss the clinical presentation of individuals with a PDA profile and differences compared to children with documented attachment difficulties. They then discuss empirical work describing how anxiety-driven avoidance of routine demands can emerge in autistic children and provide recommendations for strategies that aim to avoid strengthening habitual avoidance behaviours and, instead, allow new mutually rewarding routines to develop, which may provide opportunities to gradually increase a child’s tolerance of demands.
They argue that using the PDA profile, or describing relevant behaviours, as part of a clinical formulation can be helpful in alerting caregivers and educational professionals to particular challenges surrounding some autistic children’s ability to comply with everyday requests.
Details of both research papers have been added to the research listings in the resources section of our website.