Diagnosed with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) - working out what it means


pathological demand avoidance

April was a flurry of assessments, form filling and debriefs with various professionals and we now have a confirmed diagnosis (or two). Autism Spectrum Disorder, with a sub-diagnosis of Pathological Demand Avoidance. Or, ASD with PDA, for short.

Autism Spectrum Disorder, with a sub-diagnosis of Pathological Demand Avoidance

We have been expecting the ASD diagnosis, however were slightly caught out by a diagnosis of PDA by the Neuro Psych (who is also an Ed Psych).

From the little that I have read PDA is characterised by:
  • A need to avoid ordinary demands and expectations, where children with PDA will come up with all sorts of excuses to avoid these demands. 
  • Children can seem to be outwardly sociable, however their need to be in control can cause problems in socialising with others. 
  • These children also have a level of imagination and engage in pretend play to an extent not usually seen in children on the spectrum
  • The key to managing children with PDA is to reduce demands and try to allow them some control in a situation

    need to avoid ordinary demands and expectations

    We identified with many of the traits described on the NAS and PDA society websites, however it was hard not to be concerned by some of the descriptions of the associated behaviour difficulties which are likely require a huge amount of support into adulthood.

    we don't know whether the difficulties we are already experiencing will get more challenging as our Son gets older

    The most concerning part is that we don't know whether the difficulties we are already experiencing will get more challenging as our Son gets older, or whether we will be able to find a way to reduce the level of anxiety and associated negative behaviours.

    Being told you are going to be faced with an enormous challenge for years to come is daunting, and my resolve to be Mindful and avoid fretting about the future has been severely tested this week. At least practice makes perfect.

    I had thought that getting a confirmed diagnosis would open doors, provide enlightenment and help us get the support we needed. I am no less confused, have more questions than answers and still have a way to go to get the support we need. 

    we now know more about what questions we should be asking

    The one thing that has changed, is that we now know more about what questions we should be asking, and have a firmer plan of what it is that we need to do and where to go to find help. We also have additional confidence and conviction when stating what help and support we believe is needed for my Son and for us. 

    Next step on this journey is our mediation with the LA to try reach agreement on getting an EHC needs assessment, so we don't need to go on to lodge a formal appeal. Fingers crossed - the professional reports and our new found diagnosis will help us make our case!


    What does getting a diagnosis mean to you, and has it made a difference to helping you get support?


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