Extreme/Pathological Demand Avoidance: Theory and Understanding

South Africa

Extreme Demand Avoidance (also referred to as Pathological Demand Avoidance), is a behavioural profile occurring within the context of a neurodevelopment diagnosis, commonly in the autism spectrum conditions. The core feature is, as the name suggests, an extreme degree of avoidance due to very high anxiety. An individual will refuse, avoid, negotiate around, procrastinate and melt-down in response to perceived commands or pressures from others and from self. This has an impact on intervention, as the advice and strategies commonly helpful in cases of autism fail and even antagonize difficult behaviours. Correct understanding is vital to appropriately and helpfully approach cases of EDA.



  1. Understanding neurodevelopmental conditions and their common overlap
  2. Typical features and presentation of EDA
  3. Understanding resistance, anxiety, surface sociability, mood lability and additional domains
  4. Understanding the stress and trauma triad
  5. Distinguishing EDA from autism, from ODD and from attachment disorders
  6. Understanding EDA in the class dynamic


‘Theory and Understanding’ is included in the talk series package of either Practical Engagement with EDA in childhood, Practical Engagement EDA in Adulthood or both, and is necessary to watch before these following talks as it contextualizes all discussion about the scope, presentation and overlap of EDA. To access these follow-up talks, contact the Neurodiversity Centre

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