Today is PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance) Day and I wanted to do a quick post to promote awareness and provide reassurance to all those families who are supporting children and young people with the condition.
As we know autism can turn parenting on its head. You need to relearn everything you ever thought you knew about how to be an effective parent. Add PDA into the mix and it’s one more new ball game – except it isn’t always fun. Not for you and not for your young person.
What I want to share with you today is that you are doing a fantastic job. You are doing the best you can, with the best resource you have – yourself!
When it all disintegrates and your child or young person refuses to clean their teeth (because you asked in the wrong way) or eat what you have cooked (because it tastes like rubbish – I get told that one) or put their shoes on, go to school – whatever the everyday request is that you have asked....
Give. Yourself. A. Break!
It isn’t personal. It might feel like it but it isn’t (most of the time anyway).
Remember the times when these same scenarios have worked out and went well. Ask yourself what worked then? How was I feeling?
The one thing I have come to understand is that my son with PDA is extremely good at sensing mood and emotion in other people – very insightful indeed and this can very quickly cause him to be upset if he senses I am tired or upset, hurt, frustrated or anxious. He might not know what the difficult emotion is, but he does sense that it is present in the room. It is this that can then send him over the edge, and, he very quickly becomes the emotion that I might be feeling myself. Cue meltdown!
What has often seemed like tiny requests to me evolve into huge perceived demands and everything implodes.
It can be like living with a human smoke alarm – constantly primed and aware of impending danger, ready to alert everyone to the perceived danger – even if only the toast has been burnt!
Pick your battles
It is time to pick your battles. Does it really matter? Do you really need to leave the house or get dressed or clean teeth? It isn’t about successful parenting at this point, but emotional wellbeing and survival.
So today I am thinking of all you families living with PDA in one capacity or another. Take a moment and remember how well you are doing and how far you have come.
Happy (I hope) PDA Day!
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