What Is PDA:
Depending on where you live and the information you follow, PDA can be explained as Pathological or Extreme Demand Avoidance, or a Pervasive Drive for Autonomy, or Pervasive Discomfort Avoidance. Whatever terminology you use, PDA is reflected in students and adults with Autism as a strong “no” stance or reply to demands or expectations. Some refer to PDA and describe it as a relentless pursuit of autonomy or a propensity to want to do things “my way.” With anxiety at the root, it makes sense these individuals would also want to avoid discomfort.
The History of PDA
The term Pathological Demand Avoidance was first used in the 1980s by professionals describing children with Autism who are exhibiting certain characteristics and was first referenced in scholarly papers in 2003. Some believe PDA to be a distinct developmental condition within a grouping of pervasive disorders that now falls under the Spectrum diagnosis.
PDA is widely recognized outside the United States. Here is information on diagnosis outside the US.
You can hear what one person with Autistic Aspergers PDA has to say about their experience.
What Makes Autism with PDA So Challenging
The diagnosis is still in its infancy, with very little research to date. A person with PDA might show many qualities of Autism or Asperger’s and also respond or react in a defiant manner yet the root cause is different from Oppositional Defiant Disorder or conduct problems. It is important to remember not all people with Autism have PDA. To make things more complicated the DSM5 does not include the PDA diagnosis as part of Autism. A family would need to travel to or reside in the UK, for example, to find specialized services and techniques designed to support a student in the classroom. Skills for parenting PDA are only recently becoming easier to find and agree on. The Autism Parenting Magazine shares their views on this common yet widely misunderstood topic.
How Specialized Autism Boarding Schools Help with PDA
Specialized boarding schools can help with the common characteristics of PDA that often cause parents so much dismay and often lead to school failure or lack of attendance. Typical ASD techniques do not work with PDA. Specialized schools are equipped to focus on sociability, mood regulation, help with anxiety, obsessive behaviors and rigidity.
Autism boarding schools that understand PDA are prepared to focus more on principles and less on rules. They understand the neurological underpinnings that drive the profile and engage the student carefully to navigate conflict and the sense of demands that are so triggering. Specialized Autism and Asperger PDA Schools know how to choose their battles, if there is a battle that arises, and provide a student-led approach where possible.
Get Support with Autism and Asperger’s in Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Across the United States
You can provide your loved one with the best education and resources possible. There are plenty of options available for PDA. Partnering with Morgan Guidance Services can help you gain a better understanding of this little-recognized diagnosis and the specialized schools that can serve them with expertise and safety. If you’re interested in creating a clear path forward, let’s connect:
- Book a complimentary consultation
- Talk with one of our educational consultants
- Learn more about school and young adult support for ASD PDA!
Other Educational & Therapeutic Services we Offer in the US
In addition to placement for therapeutic boarding schools, we also offer support for long-term planning for individuals with ASD. As well as patient advocacy, transition planning, and career counseling. All of these services are available in Florida, Georgia, Texas, and throughout the United States.
About the Author
Elaine Morgan, founder of Morgan Guidance Service, is an experienced Educational and Career Counselor, Patient Advocate, and Health and Wellbeing Coach trained by Duke Health. With a focus on empowering families, Elaine combines her personal experience as a mother of seven adult children with her years of professional expertise to assist parents, guardians, and caregivers in navigating the world of specialized academic settings or GAP year. Through tailored consultations, she supports and guides families in finding the right solutions for their loved ones while also prioritizing their own well-being. Contact Elaine today to embark on a transformative journey toward the potential for young people and happiness for the family.