A unhelpful label?


Pathological demand avoidance: What and who are being pathologised and in whose interests?

Written from a social science/'critical autism study' perspective, this paper challenges the notion of PDA as a useful label. It suggests those identified may be young people who fail to conform to neuro-typical expectations and norms, and as a result are being labelled as 'wilfully disobedient' or having PDA.

Viewing this as an example of a lack of understanding of the autistic mind, the paper also suggests that the demand avoidance could be seen as entirely rational from the perspective of the autistic individual, and with defiance being pathologised, young people are made 'vulnerable' to interventions by professionals.

This paper asks some challenging questions which will be (and to some extent already have been) answered by research in other domains - that which explores the experiences of PDA adults and children, as well as more extensive clinician-led studies.


Author: Allison Moore

Published: Global Studies of Childhood, February 28 2020 (Vol 10, Issue 1, 2020)