Diagnosing PDA

Whilst there is currently a range of clinical and academic viewpoints about the PDA profile of autism, as detailed on these pages

leaders in the field agree that there is a recognisable ‘cluster of symptoms’ with implications in terms of support (please see Helpful approaches for children and Self-help, coping strategies & therapies for adults).

Assessments should always look carefully at individual strengths and needs. Demand avoidance is listed in NICE guidance and should therefore be identified and highlighted in cases where it’s significant. Under the umbrella diagnosis of autism, a clear signpost to the PDA profile is helpful because it provides understanding around presentations which may otherwise be perplexing and highlights the need for different approaches when providing support.

The PDA Society’s current understanding is that PDA is not a diagnosis in its own right, however the PDA profile can be identified during an autism assessment and that formulations such as ‘Autism with a PDA profile’ or ‘ASD with demand avoidant traits’ or similar can be, and are being, used.

Clinicians who assess for, and use terminology around, the PDA profile do so within current medical guidance/thinking and with the primary objective of improving outcomes, as outlined in this paper: Evidence for professional consideration of demand avoidance in autism assessments.

Further information for clinicians can be found here: Information for healthcare professionals.

For details about the diagnostic pathways in the UK, please see Diagnosing PDA in children and Diagnosing PDA in adults