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Our child is struggling with demand avoidance and cannot complete simple, familiar tasks.

autism autistic burnout demand avoidance pathological demand avoidance Jan 02, 2024

I've been reflecting on a powerful concept we discussed in our recent Q&A from inTune with PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance).

The art of living in the now, especially when supporting our children. I relate to this deeply as a parent. We often find ourselves caught up in the future, fretting over what's to come, don't we? And it's not easy to look ahead, or to shift our thoughts elsewhere when we're caught up in supporting our children; particularly when in crisis.

I shared a story about my own experience - how I practice, where possible, shifting my focus from worrying about the distant future to embracing the present. 

When I say 'embracing', I don't mean loving. To begin with, it's often just being here. Right now, in this moment.

It's saying to myself "Okay, this is happening. I can see it's happening, and I'm unable to prevent or change it in this moment." It's about recognising that I may be causing myself more pain and unnecessary struggle by attempting to fight what is. 

Now I hear you..I too have had to repair holes in walls from dysregulated children, or clean up types of messes I never even imagined I would, from children who are sensory seeking. I've had to find ways to prevent one sibling from being targeted by another and I'm down to my last pair of glasses after having had a few pairs knocked clean off my face by little bodies that require more of me than I've been able to provide in high stress moments.

What I acknowledge in those moments is that they're here and they're happening.

There's no moral value attached to these moments. They just exist. They just are. So I ask myself:

Given the way I'm feeling in my body, in my mind, the impact this is having on me, my loved ones and our surrounding environments and lives (like a ripple effect), how will I move forward, armed with the information I have?

If I know after board games that my children are heavily dysregulated and target one another, I'm not playing board games. 

My choice. 

Many professionals would advise that we work toward capacity building in order to overcome the stress associated with board games. 

This means we're leaving the responsibility with the child who is clearly and obviously already struggling to navigate, process and regulate through the activity. 

We also lose sight of one of the most important factors here:

These are children.


The amount of years they are, is equal to the amount of years they've been on the planet; and sometimes we're asking of them things we've taken a lifetime to understand, manage or achieve.

Expecting a child, particularly a child identified as neurodivergent with very obvious struggles to overcome their stress that they already cannot manage in the name of capacity building is wildly inappropriate and counterproductive. And hey, let's ask ourselves, how are we doing in those moments? In high stress moments with our children, are we able to overcome our own struggles in order to be a foundation of calm for them?

Not me. Not always. 

Comfort first, then courage. 

I take the information from the current moment, and I use it to inform the next.

It isn't perfect, I don't get there every single moment of every single day, but I'm always conscious of making memories, creating small moments, even knowing that when I look back at some family photos, I remember what was happening five minutes prior and it wasn't pretty.

The practice of radical acceptance for me will always be a work in progress.

It's about accepting what is, rather than what could or should be. This radical acceptance can truly transform my approach to parenting and life.

In a recent segment, I addressed a heartfelt question about supporting a child struggling with intensive demand avoidance. You know, lowering demands, increasing autonomy, and understanding the difference between challenges and inherent parts of who we are; our identities - it's a nuanced dance.

We also explored how our energy as parents deeply influences our children, especially those with PDA. And not ever in a parent blaming, parent shaming way.

{{ first_name }}, so many parents forget this, or they just don't know it, they're often doing an incredible job. A far better job than they gve themselves credit for.

Disability is not the result of parenting. 

We are doing the best we can with what we have, what we know at this point in time, and who we are.

And, all of this can change.

Sometimes, the best thing we can do is support ourselves, finding joy and peace in our own lives. This, in turn, reflects back positively on our children.

For more insights and practical advice, jump on over to take a look at our Core Programs by clicking the link below.

For now, let's give ourselves a break and make the most of our time with our children – it's the now that truly matters.

And now, for something really ridiculous (a hack when PDA says NOPE!)..

Yep, you guessed the buttons below to learn more about accessing support via our Core Programs.


Hang in there, silly season is almost over!


- Kristy


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