Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is now widely understood to be part of the autism spectrum. Individuals who present with this particular diagnostic profile are driven to avoid everyday demands and expectations to an extreme extent. This is rooted in an anxiety-based need to be in control.
The main features of PDA include:
- resists and avoids the ordinary demands of life, which might include getting up, joining a family activity or other day to day suggestions. This may be the case even when the person seems to want to do what has been suggested
- using social strategies as part of the avoidance eg distracting, giving excuses
- appearing sociable on the surface, but lacking depth in their understanding
- excessive mood swings and impulsivity
- being comfortable in role play and pretend, sometimes to an extreme extent
- 'obsessive' behaviour that is often focussed on other people.