Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)

PDA in the UK is understood as a profile on the autism spectrum, however many children may present as demand avoidant due to anxiety generated from other unmet needs. PDA is where a child or young person is resistant to any kind of demand made in daily life and may go to great lengths to avoid things. This may be specific things at specific times or more generally. A demand can be anything from asking a child to do something, to the unspoken expectation or following an written instruction. The actual or perceived demand generates extreme anxiety, leading to avoidance and refusal, which may escalate rapidly depending on how it is engaged with. It is easy to label children who struggle with PDA as simply being in need of discipline or punishment to force them to do whatever the demand is. PDA is not within the child’s conscious control and is an unconscious response to trying to regulate extreme anxiety through control of the situation. A child who needs to exert that degree of control is likely to feel very out of control inside.

For more information about PDA, please see the following links:

What is demand avoidance? – PDA Society

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) (