Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is a profile of autism where individuals share common autistic characteristics:

  • “persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction”
  • “restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour, activities or interests” present since early childhood to the extent that these “limit and impair everyday functioning” (according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fifth Edition (DSM-5) often including different sensory experiences.

Individuals are also likely to:

  • have a need for control which is often anxiety related
  • be driven to avoid everyday demands and expectations (including things that they want to do or enjoy) to an extreme extent
  • tend to use approaches that are ‘social in nature’ in order to avoid demands

Nationally there are few educational options for pupils with this profile. Research undertaken by the PDA Society highlights that 70% of children and young people with a PDA profile are not accessing school environments (either mainstream or special).