Disorder Information Sheet Mental Health Information from PsychNet-UK
Multi Search
HomeSubject Page
Refer to conditions of use

Pathological Demand Avoidance

Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome (PDA) is a pervasive developmental disorder. and is related to, but not the same as Autism and Asperger Syndrome. Individuals with PDA are typically socially manipulative with people, and therefore superficially socially skilled, which sets them apart from Autism and Asperger Syndrome

The most central characteristic of people who have Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is their obvious and obsessional avoidance of the ordinary demands of everyday life. People with PDA lack a clear and defined sense of self, and hence do not view themselves as being responsible for their actions.

Therefore, the person with PDA is highly motivated to avoid demands and is so able in this domain that they may even appear manipulative, as a variety of strategies are used with such determination toward the desired outcome of escaping demands.

Passive Early History in first year,

Continues to resist and avoid ordinary demands of life,

Surface sociability, but apparent lack of sense of social identity, pride or shame.

Lability of Mood, impulsive, led by need to control.

Comfortable in role play and pretending.

Language delay, seems result of passivity.

Obsessive behaviour.

Associated Features:

See Autism & Aspegers Syndrome

Differential Diagnosis 

Some disorders have similar symptoms. The clinician, therefore, in his diagnostic attempt has to differentiate against the following disorders which need to be ruled out to establish a precise diagnosis.

Asperger Syndrome


As in all pervasive developmental disorders, the underlying cause of PDA is believed to be organic brain dysfunction with genetic factors. A provisional diagnosis is possible before the age of four, but diagnosis is more difficult than in autism because the child usually shows more social interest, more normal language development and better imaginative play by four or five than autistic children do.


   Autism & Aspeger's Syndrome

related books
  Making Sense of Art: Sensory-Based Art Activities for Children With Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders
UK Support Groups

PDA Contact Group

(Local & National Contact)
Jan Seaborne
24 Daybrook Road,
SW19 3DH
Web: http://www.pdacontact.org.uk/

PsychNet-UK Links
  Developmental Disorder's
Page Updated
26th July 2003