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Understanding and Teaching Children with PDA Autism

Children with PDA autism (Pathological Demand Avoidance) require specialised support and understanding to thrive in their educational journey. Understanding the needs of children with this form of Autism will help you better understand the way their brains work and learn about the support and teaching methods these children need. PDA can make children with this disorder difficult to teach. This is why we’re here to give you all the tips and information about children with PDA to help make their schooling easier.

Defining PDA Autism

PDA autism is a subtype of autism spectrum disorder. Its key characteristics seen in children are; an intense resistance to demands, no matter how routine or minor, a need for control, and, irresponsive to conventional teaching approaches. These characteristics are often linked back to anxiety and the need for control over their daily life.

PDA autism can lead to difficulties in social interaction, emotional regulation and adaptive functioning. Find out more about Pathological demand avoidance here.

Teaching Methods for Children with PDA Autism

Teaching children with PDA autism, due to the nature of its characteristics, can be a difficult task. Though, not impossible. The key to teaching these children lies in the control that is given to them over their lesson choice, though this is not available in the traditional school setting.


Offering choices and negotiating on these can help minimise children’s anxiety and give them a sense of control over their choice of activities. Adding flexibility to your teaching will create a more relaxed and cooperative learning environment.

Child-Led Learning

Incorporate the Child’s interests into the lessons. Playing into their interests will encourage engagement and motivation to partake in the lessons. Alternatively, you can look into self-directed study, carrying out research or learning tasks by themselves will help children with PDA to feel more in control of their learning.

Visual and Structured Routines

Giving a child with PDA autism a visual schedule can provide predictability and reduce anxiety. Structured, but not strict routines, can help create a sense of security within these children. Helping them to better manage transitions and expectations.

Building Trust

Establishing a positive and supportive relationship of trust with children with PDA autism is crucial. Creating a safe place where they feel understood and valued will enhance their willingness to engage in lessons.

Many of the techniques and methods suggested for how to better help children with PDA autism are not available in the traditional school setting. This is why we recommend working with a tutor. We have tutors who specialise in SEN students and can help children to be who they are, whilst still furthering themselves through education.

To see how Powertutors can help visit here.

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