All of these words suggest a young person deliberately refusing to engage with the work of the class, although they will probably seem more than capable intellectually of doing so.

However a relatively unknown term should re-frame how we see these students and how we attempt to work with them: Pathological Demand Avoidance.

More commonly referred to as PDA, which takes away that rather threatening word 'pathological' and first identified in the 1980s, people who have the condition are characterised as having an overwhelming urge to avoid or resist demands, especially those made too assertively.

The condition is gaining wider recognition in the UK and elsewhere, while awareness is being raised in Australia and New Zealand through the work of such organisations as PDAANZ.

Warning lights will probably be flashing for teachers contemplating the thought of attempting to teach young people who refuse to follow direction.

After all, what is teaching if not making demands of our learners? However, there are ways of reframing the teacher-student relationship to try and engage those with the condition at some level of education.

Unfortunately, PDA has a massive impact on a young person's educational attainment and a teacher's most productive role will probably be to try and help reduce anxiety to a manageable level, rather than to maximise their educational potential. 

Although PDA has been classified under the Autism Spectrum Disorder umbrella, the behaviour of the student is rather different from the autistic stereotype. For one, there is a tendency to manipulate the classroom situation which stops them from working without having to openly refuse to do so.

It could be they aren't feeling very well, they can't work with a certain pupil in the classroom, the computer screen is too bright or the pencil is too dark.

For more sophisticated pupils the avoidance might come from a question; 'I like your jumper, where did you get it?'

As frustrating as it can be for a teacher to resolve each barrier to working before being faced with the next one, it is important to remember the student is not wilfully driving this behaviour, it is occurring out of a need to control the situation because of their high levels of anxiety. 

And while it might be counter-intuitive for a teacher to disengage from teaching the student with PDA at this point (after all isn't that what we are paid to do?) their high levels of stress would inhibit any ability to learn.

While within the general cohort of students, those not wanting to work might be deemed as 'lazy' or 'oppositional' and should of course be challenged, confronting this behaviour is guaranteed to inflame any situation and possibly terminally break down any relationship, which is key in supporting these pupils.

 The student with a PDA may very well want to learn to an infinite level of detail whatever their special interests are, just not what you want to teach them that day. In this scenario if possible, allow for individual learning programmes based on what these interests are, whether it be Hamilton the Musical or gender neutral toilets. 

Basically our traditional roles have to be re-imagined. As the student behaves inflexibly, we have to be ultra flexible, with alternatives available.

Is it possible in your school to offer the choice of subjects; 'do you want to do geography or maths next?' As the student craves control, we have to rescind a level of control, as everything has to be seen to be on their terms.

The teacher allows the pupil to believe that the decision to work in class is theirs. This gives them what they want most, control over their environment.

Finally when we make demands, these have to be reframed as requests; 'get on with your work', is guaranteed not to  work however 'perhaps we could do this next' might.

The aim is to build positive student-teacher realtionships based on trust, and to do this schools have to be flexible enough to cater to the needs of the child, where disruption to other students is minimal.