This is a short blog post to provide some updates on my current thinking on the nature of Demand Avoidance Phenomena (DAP, often called Pathological Demand Avoidance). Lately, I have made significant changes in my views on the construct, such as suggesting a new diagram to demonstrate how its nature.

Woods PDA Diagram 29 July 2020


I currently view DAP as a new type of disorder that is not part of the autism spectrum. DAP seems to be Elizabeth Newson’s “Pervasive Developmental Coding Disorder”.  You can find out more here:


Yesterday I randomly reviewing a DAP article and it mentioned their approach to DAP research. This led me to reflect on the nature of their approach and to contextualise it in wider aspects of the DAP literature. What soon became apparent is that there is a case to argue that some research into PDA can be viewed as self-validating pseudoscience, particularly research coming from the PDA Development Group (PDADG). The PDADG is a group of researchers, clinicians and practitioners who view DAP as an autism subtype and co-ordinate much DAP research and campaigning efforts, such as the information about DAP displayed on the National Autistic Society and PDA Society Websites. I discuss the PDADG in more detail here:


Ethically research needs to be conducted to avoid supporting preconceived ideas or beliefs, as part of the scientific method which aims to challenge hypotheses by trying to falsify them. Yet it does genuinely seem to be a case that some DAP research is being done to support the view it as an autism subtype and that DAP is not caused by environmental factors of trauma. What is particularly problematic is that if one considers the DAP literature there are little to no grounds to view DAP as an autism profile and the approach that DAP is an autism subtype is challenged in the literature. There is evidence to support views DAP is related to trauma or environmental factors. That it appears that this self-validating research could be taking advantage of vulnerable caregivers and vulnerable persons who are prone to internalising. That research originating from the PDADG is aware that DAP caregivers are highly motivated. These facts raise severe ethical questions around the activities of the PDADG and those conducting the self-validating pseudoscience research. I discuss this in a rather long thread which is attached in this article.


I am due to publish another list of published DAP articles soon.


Is DAP a self-validation exercise?

I have attached the thread explaining how some DAP research (mainly originating from PDA Development Group) is a self-validation exercise:

03 August 2020 PDA as a self-validation exercise


I am including some other documents that are typically not found elsewhere on the internet. A couple of them seem to have been removed from the PDA Society website, so I am uploading my copies for others to reference.


Here is a copy of what and who the PDA Development Group is:



Here is a copy of the Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome: “Awareness Matters” booklet. It mentions Phil Christie chairs the PDA Development Group and that National Autistic Society updated its information sources to recognise PDA as part of the autism spectrum in 2015:

2016 pda-awareness-matters-booklet


Here is a copy of the 2011 National Autistic Society PDA conference payment form:

2011 NAS PDA conference form


If you have any questions, please do contact me.


My latest research.

My most recent conference paper is:

  • Is the concept of Demand Avoidance Phenomena (Pathological Demand Avoidance) real or mythical?


I have recently had a commentary article published in Good Autism Practice:

  • Demand avoidance phenomena: circularity, integrity and validity – a commentary on the 2018 National Autistic Society DAP Conference.


A follow up was later published in Good Autism Practice:

  • Pathological Demand Avoidance and the DSM-5: a rebuttal to Judy Eaton’s response.


Furthermore, I have DAP article published in Child & Adolescent Mental Health.

  • Commentary: Demand Avoidance Phenomena, a manifold issue? Intolerance of uncertainty and anxiety as explanatory frameworks for extreme demand avoidance in children and adolescents – a commentary on Stuart et al. (2019).


Additionally, I and others have had a short essay published in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders:

  • Empathy and a Personalised Approach in Autism.


A book chapter describing what the sub-discipline Critical Autism Studies is, I lead authored it and it can be found here (chapter seems free to access):


Autism Policy and Practice.

The autistic-led good practice journal, Autism Policy and Practice has published its first edition under the current editor team. This can be accessed via the link below:

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