Pathological demand avoidance (PDA) is a personality disorder that is incompatible with autism, which is a neurological dysfunction.
Demand avoidant behavior is rooted in an anxiety-based need to be in control and is characterized by:
- resisting and avoiding the ordinary demands of life.
- using social strategies as part of avoidance (e.g., distractions, excuses, procrastinating, negotiating).
- outbursts of explosive behavior or aggression.
- excessive mood swings and impulsivity.
- comfort in role playing and pretending.
- blame, victimization, and harassment of others.
- difficulty controlling emotions, especially anger.
The defining characteristic of autism is hyperfocus, intense single-minded concentration fixated on one thought pattern at a time, to the exclusion of everything else, including one’s own feelings. Autistic people cannot feel emotion; they can only process their emotions intellectually, after the fact. This restriction makes it impossible for them to be impulsive, to have spontaneous outburst of explosive behavior, to have excessive mood swings, or even to feel that they have any emotions that need controlling.
Autistic people cannot have two mental programs running at the same time. This restriction means that their full attention is fixated on the conversation you are having with them, with no capability of also strategizing how to avoid doing what you are asking. Autistic people try to figure out what life demands of them and how best they can meet those demands. To resist those demands requires running a secondary mental program in opposition to the one on which their attention is fixated, a feat of which autistic people are incapable.
When something unexpected happens to upset an autistic person, his attention is fixated on trying to figure out what went wrong, with no capability of running an automated secondary program to shift the blame elsewhere. The autistic person assigns blame only if his intellectual process deems it justified, and as often as not blames the situation or himself for not understanding the situation.
The autistic brain is always fixated on truth and reality. Role playing and pretending requires running a secondary mental program that is contrary to the truth, a feat of which autistic people are incapable.
PDA appears to be a stand-alone personality disorder that is unrelated to autism.