Mapping educational experiences


Mapping the educational experiences of children with pathological demand avoidance

This paper describes a study carried out to review the educational experiences of children with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA).  It would be of interest to those who work in the field of education and to parents who are navigating their way through the education system with a child who has PDA.

The authors recognised that although clinical reports suggested children with PDA experienced significant difficulties in education, this had not been explored in a systematic way.

Parents who believed their children to have PDA were asked to complete a questionnaire reporting on their children’s educational experiences. Their responses indicated that children with PDA display high levels of problem behaviours in school and receive corresponding high levels of special educational need support and professional involvement.

The study found that even with high levels of support, the group of children with PDA experienced high rates of exclusion and placement breakdowns. Despite the difficulties indicated by parents’ responses, they tended to rate their child’s current placement fairly positively with an average ‘success’ rating of 6/10.

Findings are discussed with reference to what is known about the educational experiences of children with more typical autism spectrum conditions and in terms of the implications for the inclusion of this group of children with complex needs.


Authors:   Dr Emma Gore Langton,  Prof. Norah Frederickson

First published:  Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 12 January 2015