Summary of peer research into PDA by Sally Cat


This blog post covers Sally Cat's motivations for carrying out peer research on PDA, including the evidence and knowledge gaps that she wanted to help fill. It summarises two different pieces of peer research she has conducted:

  • Her 2016 'Big Traits' study, which took a list of potential PDA traits created by peer suggestions, and tested their prevalence with PDA people and non-PDA autistic people. Analysis (some of which was conducted by Grace Trundle, a PhD student at the University of Nottingham), showed significant differences between these two groups for the majority of the traits, with the PDA group scoring higher in every instance. Sally Cat also disaggregated the results by gender, a process that highlighted some markedly different female and male experiences for some of the traits.


  • Her 2018 Masking and Social Mimicry peer study, which aimed to investigate the nature of masking for PDA people. Participants included PDA people and non-PDA autistic people, as well as non-autistic people. More than half of participants in the PDA group felt their masking was hardwired and automatic. PDA and non-PDA autistic females were more likely than PDA males to think of their masking as automatic.


Sally Cat concludes by highlighting the additional "bag" of issues that comes with PDA, and noting how important it is not to try to change how neurodivergent people function.

Author: Sally Cat

Published: March 2023