Pathological Demand Avoidance
at a glance
“PDA is considered to be a distinct profile of the autism spectrum, characterised by the avoidance of everyday demands and the use of ‘social’ strategies as part of this avoidance.”
Tony, PDA Society
autism spectrum condition
– Differences in social
communication and social interaction
– Restricted, repetitive
patterns of behaviour,
interests, or activities
Plus many of these traits:
Pathological demand avoidance
– Resisting and avoiding the ordinary demands of life, including activities which are enjoyed.
– Using ‘social’ strategies as part of the avoidance.
– Appearing sociable, but lacking some understanding.
– Experiencing intense emotions and mood swings.
– Comfortable in role play, pretence & fantasy.
– Focusing intently, often on other people (e.g. a “repetitive or restrictive interest” which is another person.)
– A need for control which is often anxiety related
What is a demand?
“Would you like a drink?”
“Could you do some washing up?”
“I ought to” feelings..
“I ought to study.”
“I ought to tidy up.”
Praise (leads to anxiety over future expectations).
Things one wants to do.
“I want to play video games.”
“I want to ring a friend.”
Demands within demands.
i.e. the demands of going to the cinema include staying seated, staying quiet, not using a mobile phone, etc.
“I need the bathroom.”
“I need to eat.”
… and how are they avoided?
Hierarchy of avoidance approaches
(escalation can be very rapid especially if pushed)
FIGHT FLIGHT FREEZE
Complete compliance (with later breakdown?)
Withdrawal into fantasy
Reducing meaningful conversation
(increasing demands, increasing anxiety, reducing tolerance, losing control)