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We believe that Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is a misleading term...

...that incorrectly describes what is actually going on for a PDA'er - we use 'Pervasive Drive for Autonomy' which is a more accurate description by Tomlin Wilding. {Why it's important to listen to adult PDA voices}.




The core of PDA is an anxiety-driven need for autonomy. PDA causes someone to avoid demands and expectations for the sole purpose of remaining in control. Unfortunately, as a society, we don't see children as little humans that need to feel some sort of control over their own life, that as adults we can just instil our needs on them against their will and that they should obediently just do what we say without any input for what they personally need because they are the child and we are the adult.


I can feel the triggers reading this from here. Most of us were raised in the "children will be seen and not heard era", and the conditioning runs deep. Some of us are so worried about being perceived to have 'spoilt' children and being a bad parent that we have fully disconnected from our children and their needs.


It's no wonder that we have so many more PDA children being identified now. We got it wrong for so many years, almost dehumanising children if they dared to communicate their own needs if they were different to what we wanted them to have, it's no wonder that as a species we have evolved to the stage where our kids are being born with a "no! - we are own being and you won't instil you will onto us" profile. In a lot of ways, it was needed to wake us up. I digress...


So here we are with our little ones born with an anxiety-driven need to be in control, and an instinctual desire to be free. What we need to realise is that when aPDA'er avoids a demand in their environment they are avoiding it on the basis that the demand itself poses a threat to their sense of freedom, which means it poses a threat to their sense of safety... and if you know anything about epigenetics you will know that our kids have every one of our own and previous lineage unhealed trauma's passed down through their genes from generation to generation. That's a lot of unhealed trauma to be born with even before you have had a chance to experience your own (why it's crucial that we stop the trauma cycle by healing our own... once again ADHD thanks for popping in, I digress).


So here's your choice as a parent, and this comes into play if it's your spouse that is PDA'er too (I will do another post about this but same principle) - do you want to work with your child and actually empower them with resources for how to better understand themselves and advocate for their needs? Or do you want to raise an anxiety-riddled child that feels unsafe in a neurotypical world and that non-safety includes you?


I know you love your child and I know it takes bravery to go against the neurotypical norm, but PDA'ers are intrinsically motivated, learn best and work more efficiently when they can work collaboratively WITH you (where you both benefit).


Acknowledging the source of their anxiety might help them control it so they can enjoy the activities they love as they are wired in a way that pushes them into fight, flight, or freeze incredibly easily.


Here are a couple of suggestions from Dr Donna Henderson on how to work WITH your PDA child:


✨Understand that this is all based in anxiety, almost like a phobia of a loss of autonomy. As Kristy Forbes (well known PDAer) has stated, “it’s an extreme form of anxiety…we are constantly in survival mode.”


✨ Build relationships and practice radical acceptance.


✨ Collaboration with the individual is critically important – allowing them to choose how to cope with demands in ways that they can handle. Give them a sense of control whenever possible.


✨Use their need for novelty and their interest in role play.


✨Do NOT threaten, give ultimatums, take it personally, or talk down to them.


✨ Recognise their signs of anxiety and pull back when you see those signs.


✨ Offer long and frequent recovery periods. The child and the family are almost always in either trauma phase or recovery phase (or walking on eggshells, waiting for the next unpredictable explosion).


I get it's not an easy job parenting in what may be a revolutionary way to you, but your child chose you for that role for a reason... and when you look past the neurotypical expectations, you can see the person you are actually raising: PDA'ers make great activists and revolutionaries, people who can lead and inspire others, and are ultimately pretty awesome people when they don't have to live under other people's rules, expectations and demands.

Our PDA'ers are here to make big, needed changes in our world and I am here for it.


Sending big love x


- T ♡

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