PDA behavioural profile


Pathological demand avoidance: Exploring the behavioural profile

The aim of this paper was to report the profiles of children diagnosed with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) compared to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Conduct Problems (CPs) and Callous Un-emotional Traits (CUs).  The study addressed some of the controversy surrounding the PDA ‘label’ and whether PDA should be recognised as a syndrome distinct from these other disorders.

Standardised parent-report indices of psychopathology were used to compare the behavioural traits of the individuals in each group. The results showed that the children fitting the PDA description displayed severe impairments across multiple domains. Levels of peer-related problems seen with PDA were comparable to ASD. Levels of anti-social traits and lack of pro-social behaviour in PDA were comparable to those with CP/CU.

There is discussion regarding the various management strategies that can be successful for each group and the particular difficulties faced by those with features of PDA. Areas of further study were identified to elucidate the neurocognitive basis of the PDA profile and to investigate possible interventions.


Authors:  Elizabeth O’Nions, Essi Viding, Corina U Greven, Angelica Ronald and Francesca Happé

First published Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice, 2014, Vol. 18(5) 538–544