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PDA stops me in my joy, too.

Uncategorized Apr 27, 2020

Part of my PDA autistic expression is the inability to continue on with hobbies, projects and plans that excite me; that I really want to engage in.
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The very act of planning has the potential to activate the threat response in my brain.
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The part of my brain that receives information from the environment and assesses threat translates more of my environment as a threat than the average person.
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The amygdala in a PDA autistic brain doesn’t know the difference between excitement and threat.
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Too much happiness, too much excitement, too much planning can shut my brain down to the point where I am held hostage to the neurobiological process of the brain’s protective instructions to my body to prepare for fight, flight, freeze or fawn.
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I may become suddenly exhausted, nauseous, overwhelmed, frozen, aggressive due to frustration or in a range of forms, simply unable to carry on or comply.
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Demand pressure isn’t something the PDA brain responds to simply from others making requests of us.
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It comes from any implied demands or pressure, and sadly, this does extend to our own joy.
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The things we love; the things that make us happy.
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As children, we often don’t understand what’s happening in these moments.
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Well intentioned others will want to assist, want to talk, want to help us sift through the thoughts and feelings and get to the bottom of this difficulty so we’re able to move forward and eventually stop this from happening.
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These are all forms of demand pressure.
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What helps is to accept us unconditionally in these moments.
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We are experiencing our disability, no matter how invisible.
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The more pressure, the more we shut down.
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The more this happens, the more frequent these episodes occur until we then no longer feel safe to leave our room.
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The anxiety of that looming resistance to comply is often terrifying for us.
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Who will we disappoint next?
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Who will misunderstand us and potentially reject and abandon us in our greatest moments of need?
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It is no wonder, then, how the PDAer is so easily traumatised when our exposure and experience with this cycle is so frequent as children.
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“Just try harder, I’ve seen you do it before”
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“Ohh come on, you can’t just do whatever you want, come out and join your family”
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Disability is disability.
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When a person is a wheelchair user, do we question them about their medical issues and what it is that makes them not be able to get up and walk up that flight of stairs?
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No. We don’t ask for qualification or justification.
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We accept and respect.
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All disability is deserving of this, obvious or not.
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The answer at times, is to back off.
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To be quiet and still and to love unconditionally.
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This is the only way our overactive threat response is calmed.
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To be loved, unconditionally.
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Kristy Forbes
inTune Pathways

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