What is PDA autism?
Jessica Lindsay - Wednesday 4 Apr 2018 6:41 pm
World Autism Awareness Week is just behind us, but that certainly doesn’t mean the conversation about autism needs to end.
One behaviour profile on the spectrum is PDA or pathological demand avoidant.
One of the main reasons autism is still so misunderstood is because it exists on a spectrum.
Therefore, although autistic people will have many of the same difficulties, it will affect them in different ways.
This is a distinct disorder from autism, but falls on the spectrum nonetheless, and many people diagnosed with PDA will have the same difficulties as someone with autism spectrum disorder.
The main characteristic shown by someone with PDA are severe anxiety when demands are placed on them, in a much more extreme way than we may be used to.
Sometimes it may seem that those with a demand avoidant profile have better social understanding and skills than other on the autism spectrum, however, more commonly they will use socially strategic ways to avoid the demands placed on them.
According to the National Autistic Society, the features of someone classified as demand avoidant are:
Resists and avoid the ordinary demands of life
Uses social strategies as part of avoidance, like distracting or giving excuses
Appears sociable, but lacks understanding
Experiences excessive mood swings and impulsivity
Appears comfortable in role play and pretence
Displays obsessive behaviour that is often focused on other people
A demand avoidant person may use tactics like distraction and procrastination to avoid their demands, but may resort to aggression and outbursts to do so.
Reportedly, those with PDA often have a facade of being sociable, while lacking the deeper understanding of social cues and mores.
Although some of the symptoms shown in someone with PDA may overlap with those shown with autism spectrum disorder, the only way to truly know the difference is through a diagnostic assessment for autism.
If you think this might affect you or your child, you should chat to your GP about a referral to an autism specialist.
From there, you should be able to get better support, and advice on how to deal with you or your loved one's diagnosis.