PDA Society

PDA Society

At a glance


  • Children / families
  • Health and well being / research and care
  • Learning disabilities / difficulties
  • Mental health

Other details

Organisation type: 
Geographical remit: 
National - Britain


PDA stands for Pathological Demand Avoidance and this name is used to describe autistic people for whom any kind of demand triggers a fear response. This is more than not wanting to do something, or refusing to do something, it is the experience of being unable to do things (even things you desperately want to do) if at a conscious or unconscious level you perceive them as threatening your autonomy. For some people even bodily urges like thirst or hunger can be perceived as demands.

Yet autistic people with a PDA profile often don’t get the support they need to thrive. This causes completely avoidable harm and can lead to very poor mental health outcomes. 70% of the PDA community say a lack of understanding about PDA is a barrier to getting help. 81% of PDA people experience severe anxiety; 73% have low self-esteem and 19% experience severe depression. This is not inevitable - support & information make a radical difference.

And this is where PDA Society comes in. We care about PDA people and believe that happy autonomous lives are possible – everything we do is about trying to make life better for PDA people and the people who care about them.


We do this in four ways:

  • By raising awareness of PDA and providing high quality trustworthy information about it.
  • By training parents and professionals so that they better understand PDA people and what works in offering support that is helpful.
  • By offering tailored support to families through our enquiry line service which is entirely staffed by people who ‘get it’, either because they are a PDA person themself or because they are a parent carer of a PDA person.
  • By supporting PDA people and those that care about them to build mutually supporting safe connections and act collectively to influence change in their own lives and in Society as a whole.

Underpinning all of this is our commitment to research and using evidence to influence better understanding, better support and better outcomes for PDA people in the future. You can read our 5 year strategy (which we are one year into) on our website.

Last year we directly supported more than 4,500 people through our training and enquiry line. 750,000 people accessed information on our site. This year we expect that number to rise to a million.

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