An exploration of the PDA profile in children


An exploration of the Pathological (or Extreme) Demand Avoidant profile in children referred for an autism diagnostic assessment using data from ADOS-2 assessments and their developmental histories

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.”


Authors: Judy Eaton & Kaylee Weaver

Published: Good Autism Practice (GAP), October 2020

Help for Psychology has also written this summary.