PDA North America Resources

At PDA North America, we aim to provide as many resources as possible to support those living with PDA. To be updated when we add new content, please join our mailing list! If there's a resource you'd like to see, please let us know!

PDA-Affirming Provider List

Below you will find a link to one of the most powerful resources we’ve created to date – the PDA-Affirming Provider List. We have spoken to every provider on this list and confirmed that they are indeed PDA-affirming as well as LGBTQ+ affirming. 
The list also includes all providers that are recognized by PDA North America as having taken the Certificate Program we offer. All other providers listed have given us permission to be listed. 
To note: PDA North America is sharing names of trained individuals as a helpful resource. We do not specifically endorse or take responsibility for any individual listed on this list.
If you are a PDA-affirming provider that would like to be added to this list please fill out the form linked below. 
If you would like your listing edited or removed, please contact Molly Johnson at: mjohnson@pdanorthamerica.org  – Thanks!

PDA North America Support Groups

PDA North America helps facilitate many PDA Support groups throughout the USA and Canada. Support Groups are free to join, and volunteer-led. If you have any interest in joining a support group, leading/creating a new one, whether you’re a PDA person, or parent/caregiver of a PDAer, please fill out this quick survey. After you do, our Support Group Coordinator, Lara Johnson, will be in touch shortly.
If you have any additional questions regarding Support Groups, please reach out to Lara Johnson at Lara@pdanorthamerica.org

PDA Community Outreach List

PDA North America has created this survey form and this list in response to parents and PDAers in North America seeking a LOCAL community of people that understand and value their experience. We hope that many people will be able to find connection, community and understanding from someone geographically close to them.
By entering your information, you agree to have anyone on this list contact you to discuss PDA and hopefully form a local community and connection through mutual understanding. You also agree to have your information publicly posted on a sharable spreadsheet linked on PDANorthAmerica.org. 

PDA North America does not vet this list nor do we endorse anyone on this list. This list is created by and for the PDA community and extended community of caretakers/parents/family members.

Should you wish to be removed from this list at anytime, please contact Ruth@pdanorthamerica.org

New Webinar! A Great Place To Start.

New to PDA? This full primer will get you up to speed with everything you need to know about PDA.

Free Downloadable PDFs

Below you'll find FREE downloadable resources from PDA North America that we've created or compiled from various organizations supporting pathological demand avoidance. These resources will continue to grow so be sure to check back regularly. If you are looking for us to create a specific resource, email us to let us know! ruth at pdanorthamerica dot org

What Is PDA?

PDA for Teaching Professionals

Homeschooling and PDA

Strategies For School

De-escalation Methods

School Based Behavior Plans

PDA Presentation & Approaches by PDA Mama Bear

PDA Affirming Guidelines

Therapist Checklist

It’s All About Trust

The Paradigm Shift

We have compiled a library of links where you can find content and information in the field of PDA. Our list is ever growing so please check regularly for updates.

PDA North America is sharing names of trained individuals as a helpful resource. 

We do not specifically endorse or take responsibility for any individual listed on this site.

What Is Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)?

PDA is becoming widely recognized in other countries to be a profile on the autism spectrum thanks to The PDA Society (UK) and PDA emissaries like Kristy Forbes and Ruth Fidler. However, US and Canada are still at an early stage in our understanding and PDA research is in its infancy.

While autism is a widely recognized term our understanding of the full breadth and complexity of the autism spectrum is still evolving. The National Autistic Society explains autism as, “a lifelong disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.” Many autistic advocates embrace the neurodiversity concept, where a range of neurological differences is viewed as being part of a natural human variation.

We know that autism is dimensional – it involves a complex and overlapping pattern of strengths, differences and challenges that present differently from one individual to another and in the same individual over time or in different environments.

A cluster of traits can be called a presentation or a profile – in some cases this can be quite different from what some people think autism ‘looks like’.

This can lead to presentations in some people – including autistic women and girls, and PDA individuals – being missed altogether, misunderstood or misdiagnosed, which can in turn lead to poor outcomes.

All research points to early identification and tailored support being the best predictor of positive long-term outcomes. Recognizing these profiles helps identify signposts the approaches or support that will be most helpful for each individual.

A PDA profile of autism means that individuals share autistic characteristics …

  • persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction,” and, “restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, activities or interests,” present since early childhood to the extent that these, “limit and impair everyday functioning,” (according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fifth Edition, DSM-5)

  • often including a different sensory experience in relation to sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing, vestibular, proprioception and interoception.

… and also:

  • have a need for control which is anxiety related

  • are driven to avoid everyday demands and expectations (including things that they want to do or enjoy) to an extreme extent

  • tend to use approaches that are ‘social in nature’ in order to avoid demands

  • present with many of the ‘key features’ of PDA rather than just one or two

  • tend not to respond to conventional parenting, teaching or support approaches

Source: The PDA Society

Characteristics of PDA

  • Resists and avoids the ordinary demands of life 

  • Appearing sociable, but lacking depth in understanding 

  • Excessive mood swings and impulsivity 

  • Comfortable in role play and pretend, sometimes to an extreme extent 

  • Language delay, often with good degree of catch-up 

  • Obsessive behavior, often focussed on people, either loving or loathing them

  • Can be domineering and overbearing

  • Parents often describe a “Jekyll and Hyde” personality

  • Bossy and controlling

  • Often more comfortable with adults than children

  • Often hypersensitive to other’s voices, facial expressions, etc. (may absorb others emotions)

  • Can be over familiar with adults and peers

  • May take on the persona of other people, i.e., teachers

  • Can go into role to comply

  • Have a panic attack or meltdown if highly anxious – these may result in aggression towards others

  • Unconcerned about impact of behavior on others

  • Can behave very differently at school/college to home

  • Unable to follow routines if set by others

  • Often have sensory issues – noise, touch, brightness, etc.

Prof Elizabeth Newson (1995) (Revised 1998, Second Revision  2000, Third Revision 2001)