In this article, we explore what Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is and what PDA strategies we can use to support the young people in our care. Remember, if you are looking for more generic behaviour strategies check out our behaviour tool. We also have a number of other topics to explore here.

As always, in order to support the running of this website, this article may contain links that provide a commission if a purchase is made via them.

pda strategies

What is Pathological Demand Avoidance?

Pathological Demand Avoidance, or PDA is a term that is widely debated with no conclusive or universally agreed definition. Instead, a “PDA Profile” has been established. Common features of this profile include the motivation to avoid everyday demands and expectations – however the extent to which this occurs could be described as “extreme”. Understanding the PDA profile can help to identify the best PDA strategies to use.

What are the Pathological Demand Avoidance symptoms?

PDA profile common features include:
– resisting the demands of everyday life
– using social strategies as part of this avoidance
– can appear sociable but lack deeper understanding around social situations
– mood swings, impulsive behaviour, variability in temperament
– Obsessions and obsessive behaviour focusing on others
– Comfortable in role play, pretend etc

These features vary widely and will present differently in different individuals. The most significant trait, however, is the avoidance of demand which, at times, can be to their own detriment.

Pathological Demand Avoidance Strategies

Key PDA strategies include:

– Picking battles, limiting rules, providing choice and control where possible, accepting what cannot always occur
– Adapting demands, adopting plan B, build extra time in activities in order to pre-empt difficulties in achieving objectives
– Disguise demands using indirect language – work together on activities vs “you do”
– Negotiate – stay calm, collaborate to solve challenge and complete activities
– Reduce uncertainty, provide information, make routines visual, consider sensory overload.

More information

The Teacher’s Introduction to Pathological Demand Avoidance  – Essential Strategies for the Classroom (Clare Truman)

I am currently making my way through this book after a recommendation from a fellow Twitter user (follow me here). First impressions are that this is an exciting resource for exploring PDA strategies, ways of working and also as a great knowledge base for working with those who exhibit characteristics of the PDA profile.

The book goes beyond the classroom into caring for young people within this profile. It explores the design of curriculum, the development of social skills, communicating demands, responding to distressed behaviours as well as looking at some of the more nuanced and hidden aspects of PDA. It’s wealth of PDA strategies allow it support working 1:1 with a young person as well as within the classroom. It’s reassuring style of writing helps to allow the reader to feel confident in the decisions they make to support the young person. It also identifies how traditional autism strategies might be adapted to support a child with PDA profile behaviours.

This review will be updated as I progress through – please check out the book here

Resource Available Here…