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Difference between Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)?

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) are two distinct conditions that sometimes share some similar characteristics, such as resistance to demands and authority. However, there are some key differences between the two.


PDA is a subtype of autism that is characterised by an extreme anxiety-driven avoidance of everyday demands and expectations, often leading to significant emotional distress. Individuals with PDA may display passive resistance, avoidance, or even aggression in respond to demands, as well as a need for control and a difficulty with transitions. PDA unfortunately is not currently recognised as a separate diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), but is slowly becoming more recognised as part of autism.


ODD, on the other hand, is a behavioural disorder that is characterised by an ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile, and defiant behaviour towards authority figures, such as parents, teachers, or other adults. Individuals with ODD may argue frequently with adults, refuse to comply with rules, deliberately annoy others, and blame others for their mistakes. ODD is recognised as a separate diagnosis in the DSM-5.


While both PDA and ODD may involve resistance to demands, there are some important differences in the way they manifest. Individuals with PDA tend to have a more pervasive avoidance of demands across all areas of life, whilst individuals with ODD tend to display defiance specifically towards authority figures.

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