Pathological Demand Avoidance
(PDA) is a condition associated with ASD
It is a behaviour that is characterised by an overwhelming or obsessional need to resists or avoid demands.
So children with ASD having PDA as well will show avoidant behavior to a very high degree
This behaviour is rising up because of the factor of anxiety. The child feels he/she is not in control of the situation and hence they get anxiety and choose to avoid the demand by teacher , parent or instructor.
The anxiety is of such high level that child would react or nod with a “ No “ even to tasks that they usually have fun doing
For e.g if they child loves doing swings after some academic task, the child would just refuse because of the anxiety kicking in
Now lets dive into what PDA would look like and you can note these pointers in your child too(if you have a feeling that it is PDA)
- Resists ordinary demands e.g eating food , sleeping , changing clothes
- Mood swings are extreme for e.g they are excited one minute and very quite the net one
- They might seem to be very social than you expect them like giving good eye contact , and conversation but would definitely fail to understand the deeper meaning of that social interaction. Thus they show socialisation only on the surface
- They can engage in behaviours that can shock or upset others
- They are easy going with pretending and role play . They might mimic an animal or teacher or act like any adult and would lose touch with reality. They adopt others personality
So now how to help the child to withdraw from these avoidant behaviours and cope with the spike of anxiety
1.Make the child feel safe and secure. Art and Play therapy can take the lead here
2.Being an active listener towards the child so they feel they are in control of a given situation
3.Avoid using demand words like need , must ,should , now
4. Instead go for I wonder if we can………….. or Is it okay if we ……………
5.Use visual prompts and be assertive when you make requests to the child . This will help child to know the plan ahead and gain trust
6.Praise the child indirectly like usding affirmative sentences “ I am so pleased that you picked up that ball”. Direct praises can trigger anxiety as they are shy
7. Use humour to make demands feel less dominating like “ I bet you cant eat cabbage “
8. Most important is be consistent with above mentioned strategise and be flexible and not taking child’s behaviour personally
Well that the end to this insightful blog post. I hope you gained some new skills.
Creative efforts and Positive language user – Heena Sahi