Have you heard of ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) & PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)? I am seeing more and more children with a dual diagnosis of ASD and ODD & PDA. It is generally agreed PDA is part of the Autism Spectrum Conditions whereas ODD can occur on its own.

Phil Christie, a child psychologist, said “It is inevitably the case that when conditions are defined by lists of behavioural features there will be interconnections and overlaps. This results in certain aspects of ODD and PDA presenting in a similar ways”

Defines Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) as an ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behaviour toward authority figures which goes beyond the bounds of normal childhood behaviour.
Defines Pathological Defiance Disorder as an extreme avoidance of everyday demands and an anxiety-driven need to be in control.

What you might see with either ODD or PDA

  • Refuses to do what is asked
  • Always answers with “No”
  • Talks back
  • Deliberately ignores instructions
  • Won’t participate in activities
  • Makes own rules
  • Angers very easily
  • Stuck in negative thought patterns
  • Has strong likes and dislikes but often can’t tell you why
  • Withdrawing into fantasy world
  • Giving excuses like ‘I’m tired’ or complaining of physical impairment ‘my hand hurts’

Although there is some debate over whether ODD and PDA are different disorders or the same, I find similar strategies seem to be effective for both.

Recommended Resources for PDA and ODD


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