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Parents of Autistics, read this.

Parents of Autistics, read this.

Understanding Pathological Demand Avoidance could unlock the next level of parenting for you.

Laura Camacho
Laura Camacho

Sometimes I run across a resource that is so spot on in its analysis and advice that it takes an incredible weight off my shoulders for a moment. The sheer relief of having my daily experience validated and spoken to is so grounding, so galvanizing.

That's how I felt when I read Sandra R. McConnell's "PDA and the Two Steps of Support."

In her blog post, McConnell defines Pathological Demand Avoidance, or PDA, as an anxiety-driven inability to cope with demands (real or perceived; external or internal) that is comorbid with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I've read about PDA before, but McConnell has a deeply compassionate approach.

Too often, kids on the spectrum get talked about like they're merely subjects to be studied or game pieces to be moved according to a particularly parenting strategy. McConnell is most concerned about the wellfare of the PDA child, and her article is a gentle but firm set of guidelines for parents to do right by their PDA kid.

...adults who support PDA children must remember to differentiate between their intrinsic motivations – and their anxiety and resistance behaviors. Their positive, intrinsic traits should be protected at all costs, even before obedience, as they are fragile and easily broken. The adult must furthermore remember that the child is perceiving the world differently, and doesn't know how to control their anxiety yet; and that they, the adult, can show them how, by resisting their own self-doubts and defense mechanisms, and by demonstrating maturity, patience, and tolerance; the kind that will help them grow and find peace in a world not made for them.

In no way is this article the be-all end-all advice that will answer all your parenting questions. But it is a wonderful piece to add to your parenting toolkit. I highly encourage every parent of an autistic child read this article and follow McConnell's blog (she's just getting started!).