A new ambassador for a form of autism called PDA

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There's an autism spectrum disorder called PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance). People with PDA share some social and communications difficulties with others on the autism spectrum but their main difficulty is that they're drive to avoid everyday demands to an extreme extent. Most importantly, very different support strategies are needed to enable people with PDA to thrive. Just like giant pandas!

The recommended support strategies for individuals with PDA are very specific and very different to those for people with other autism profiles. In place of firm boundaries and the use of rewards, consequences and praise, individuals with PDA respond better to an approach based on negotiation, collaboration and flexibility.

Just like individuals with PDA, giant pandas: • need very specific accommodations in order to thrive and may often suffer without appropriate support • are extremely sensitive to their environments • are very vulnerable • show how an integrated approach to their care – combining science, a genuine commitment from multiple parties and community engagement – is essential for success

And just as giant pandas can thrive with suitable support (their numbers have risen by 17% in the last decade according to the WWF) so too can individuals with PDA. Individuals with PDA respond better to a less direct and more collaborative approach which may include:

- careful management of demands - careful management of anxiety - indirect language, humour and games to disguise demands - negotiation and careful picking of battles

“Time and again we hear that individuals with PDA are being misdiagnosed and misunderstood. Using inappropriate support strategies for individuals with PDA can be ineffective, counter-productive and even, in some cases, damaging,” explains Paula Webb, Chair of the PDA Society.

“PDA Action Day is on 15th May and it's all about increasing acceptance of this form of autism and enabling people involved with PDA – whether they are individuals with PDA, parents, other family members, carers, teachers, clinicians or social care workers – to take action."

15th May 2017 is the fifth consecutive year that the PDA Society has been organising a day to focus on Pathological Demand Avoidance. Previously called PDA Awareness Day this year sees a repositioning as PDA Action Day to encourage everyone to take some steps or make some changes to better support those with this autism profile. For further info please see www.pdasociety.org.uk