Extreme (“pathological”) demand avoidance in autism: a general population study in the Faroe Islands

Christopher Gillberg , I.C. Gillberg, Lucy Thompson, Rannvá Biskupstøð, Eva Billstedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Research into Pathological Demand Avoidance
(PDA), which has been suggested to be a subgroup within
the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is almost nonexistent
in spite of the frequent reference to the condition in clinical practice. The total population of 15 to 24-year-olds in
the Faroe Islands was screened for ASD, and 67 individuals
were identified who met diagnostic criteria for ASD (corresponding to a general population prevalence of ASD of
almost 1 %). Of these 67, 50 had parents who were interviewed using the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO-11) which contains 15 “PDAspecific” items. Nine individuals met criteria for “possible
clinical diagnosis of PDA”, meaning that almost one in five
of all with ASD also had indications of having had PDA in
childhood, and that 0.18 % of the total population had had
the combination of ASD and PDA. However, at the time of
assessment, only one of the 9 individuals with possible PDA still met “full criteria”. PDA possibly constitutes a considerable minority of all cases with ASD diagnosed in childhood, but criteria for the condition are unlikely to be still met in
later adolescence and early adult life
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)979-984
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean child & adolescent psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Pathological demand avoidance
  • Extreme demand avoidance
  • · Autism spectrum disorder
  • Population study
  • Faroe Islands
  • Prevalence
  • Gender


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