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I suspect that PDA develops over a long period of time. I think children are born with autism type symptoms and have sensitivities around noises that they can’t control, light, touch, smell etc. . They further find social interactions tricky and generally find the world around them difficult to negotiate. Possibly this constant “stress” and “anxiety” builds and it gets to a point where they subconsciously “shut down” in effect. I have found sitting with the pupil and agreeing a timetable with them allows them to feel more in control. Also a chill out zone in the corner of the classroom might help. Help them to recognise when they are beginning to get an “overload” and encourage them to move to the chill out zone BEFORE a full melt down occurs (this might take a while with a mood thermometer and a timeout card). Lots of praise is key when they do achieve and a discussion about any overloads can only take place once they are calm again. Remember these people may “mask” and finding their stress warning signs such as stimming can be very useful.
This is only my humble opinion.