New Study into Pathological Demand Avoidance & Parental Wellbeing

Jan 16 Sarah Rose

Dr Sarah Rose

Dr Sarah Rose, Lecturer in Psychology & Course Leader for Staffordshire University’s BSc in Psychology & Child Development, blogs on her current research in Developmental Psychology including a new study being conducted with a Masters student:

If I said to you that I knew a child who had been diagnosed as having autism you would probably have some idea of the type of behaviour that this child might display. But what if I said to you that I knew a child with suspected Pathological Demand Avoidance… you probably would be less sure.

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is a recently recognised sub-type of autism. Children, and adults, with this disorder appear to be socially quite adept, can engage in role play and pretending but have extreme difficulty with demands and expectations from others. Consequently, even the simplest daily activities, such as getting dressed when asked to, can become a huge drama.

As PDA has only recently been recognised, many clinicians and educators seem to know little about it and there has only been a handful of research articles published on the topic. Parents of these children are likely to need a lot of support, as their children can often present severe behavioural challenges. A quick look on forums for parents tell us that many have struggled to get a diagnoses and many feel that they have been wrongly accused of poor parenting.

Jan 16 Mandi Baker

Amanda Baker

At Staffordshire University Amanda Baker, a student studying for her MSc in Applied Research in Psychology, is investigating the associations between children with suspected and diagnosed Autism and PDA and the parent’s well-being along with the impact it has on the family.

(August 2016 update) We have completed recruitment for this study and are currently in the process of analysing the data with a view to publicising the findings in the near future.


Dr Sarah Rose is a Lecturer in Psychology and a member of the School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University, a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

For more information or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page. For further information about our MSc by Applied Research please visit our course page.

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