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Pathological Demand Avoidance

Pathological Demand Avoidance was first recognised in the 1980's and is now recognised as part of the Autistic Spectrum. ​It has been recognised as a developmental disorder. 

PDA is an anxiety-driven need for control and that meltdowns are effectively panic attacks. Parents express that once they understand this concept, it's easier to understand their child / young persons behaviour. 

PDA Society Understanding PDA Webinars on YouTube :

Part One 

Part Two 


From the NAS website Author: Ruth Fidler

Top 5 tips

Supporting pupils with PDA

1. Collaborate with the child, offering approaches that recognise their strengths; with families, recognising the particular issues that they face; and with colleagues in school and other agencies so as to have a co-ordinated approach.

2. Prioritise which issues to deal with at any given time - collaborate with others on deciding what the priorities are and which strategies will be used to achieve them.

3. Promote wellbeing – demand avoidance is driven by raised anxiety so reducing anxiety, promoting positive self-esteem, self-awareness and good social relationships is key.

4. Use indirect approaches which are creative, individualised and flexible, and which can be adapted to synchronise anxiety and demand.

5. Allow additional processing time – as with other people with autism it is beneficial to allow extra time to process incoming instructions, social and sensory information. For people with PDA it can also be beneficial to allow extra time to process their anxiety and sensitivity to demands. Giving time and space to do this will facilitate better wellbeing as well as better co-operation.

These top tips are meant only as a very general guide to what to think about.

Other tips from a parents blog:

1. Offer choice 

Example: “Would you like to walk the dog this morning or this afternoon?”  This type of approach gives our son the control that he needs.  It’s letting him know that this is something that we would like to happen but that we are flexible as to when it happens.

2. Reduce/remove demands 

Example:  My husband was working out in the garden and I really wanted my son to go and help him.  I knew that asking him to do so would be seen as a demand and result in refusal.  I simply said, in passing “I wish daddy had some help with what he’s doing out there” and then wandered off.  To say that I was shocked at the result is an understatement.  He simply stood up and announced that he was going to help daddy.   RESULT!

3. Don't sweat the small stuff! Its ok to not know exactly what the problems are your child is struggling with. As parents our go to response is to try and solve their problems, to rescue our kids from the situation and stop them from feeling what they are feeling. The more we rescue them, the harder it is for them to learn to self regulate. Reflect their feelings back on to them "I can see you're angry/stressed/upset and thats ok to feel like that. Do you want some help or should I leave you alone?" This approach might work for you, it might not. 

Parents recommend: 

PDA Society 

Parents blog: 
Harry Thompson ,
Lynn McCann Reachout ASC Blog post
Aucadamy with Harry Thompson & Dr Chloe Farahar




The PDA Society

offers the following courses and can also deliver bespoke courses – please email for further information or to make an enquiry.

Please note that the PDA Society courses are delivered by training facilitators with valuable first-hand experiences of living and working with PDA.

For details of current courses please see

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Reachout ASC 

Lynn McCann heads a team of two specialist teachers, delivering high quality advice and training to schools and families working across Lancashire, South Cumbria and occasionally further afield, they are able to meet the needs of individual pupils and schools.  They provide webinars as well as online courses for people to access at their own pace.  Lynn also delivers training on 2 other portals. Schudio TV and Isabella Trust  (see below)           

Lynn has produced a series of online courses and has linked up with Schudio to create a platform for people to subscribe monthly to access it. The platform is called "Getting it right" 

Titles include:

  • Pathological Demand Avoidance (coming soon)

Please email

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Sunshine Support

A range of webinars to join and watch prices from £15 for parents and £25 for professionals with CPD cert. 

 Current offer includes:

  • What is Pathological Demand Avoidance? How can I help my child who has a PDA profile? (Available until 30th June 2020)


Please book via

Useful Links

PDA Resources
Local Support
National Support
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