As many people may be aware, there has been a great deal of interest in, and controversy around, PDA. What it is, what it should be called, and whether it actually exists.
As it is now over thirty years since the original concept of PDA was introduced by Elizabeth Newson and her colleagues, and how the thinking around Autism has moved on significantly during this time, it is very appropriate that this is discussed.
The first point of discussion is often around the name – many people find the term ‘Pathological’ difficult to accept. They state that it puts the ‘blame’ for the demand avoidance firmly upon the child, and misses the reasons why a child might avoid certain situations or requests. No one would dispute that avoiding demands is a human trait – we all do it to some extent. Sometimes there is a completely rational reason why a child might resist doing something. School and school work are often a trigger, and many children are actually traumatised by the school environment, and the fact that they find aspects of the work difficult. They may have sensory issues that lead to them becoming overwhelmed in certain situations. All perfectly reasonable reasons to avoid activities.