Asperger’s Syndrome / Autism and Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)….Is it a comfortable fit?

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Seeking the opinions and advice of others regarding Pathological Demand Avoidance as it relates to Asperger’s Syndrome has shown me that there is a world of debate out there regarding the  relevance of seeking to apply yet another label to the behaviors of those already defined as being on the Autism Spectrum.

Yet despite this, many now believe that Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is a valid diagnosis that is consistent with an Autism diagnosis.

As the mother of a child who has undergone many of the behaviors described within PDA I’m going to admit that my key point of focus here lays in finding any tools that better enable me to best understand the differences that arise between my own experience of Asperger’s Syndrome and my child’s experiences of it.

But…..having said this, I will only accept those explanations that best explain our differences, if they can accurately explain why my daughter’s behavioral needs are so different to my own.

After all we have both been diagnosed with the Asperger’s Syndrome, yet despite this, our behaviors are as different as chalk and cheese.

For example, I’m an extremely peace-loving person.

I am both opinionated and yet at the same time, a quiet person.

I like rules.

I like knowing where the boundaries of any given subject are.

I’m not an aggressive, nor an explosive person.

When I feel overwhelmed, I tend to withdraw into myself.

My child on the other hand can become both explosive and aggressive when she feels overwhelmed.

And the things that make her feel overwhelmed are more often than not, simply being asked to do something.

Now we both feel the need to question everything, but only one of us feels the need to rage aggressively against being asked to do things.

So why is this so?

In my experience, the use of PDA to better define the way in which some of us experience Asperger’s syndrome, and yet others do not,  is both a worthwhile and a valid one.

I acknowledge that I am viewing the whole idea of PDA form many levels.

Not only am I a person with Asperger’s Syndrome myself, but I’m also the mother of a child who also has Asperger’s yet who’s behaviors are at times so completely different from my own that they make me wonder whether or not one of us has been incorrectly diagnosed.

So for me, the idea that PDA may be an additional experience that some with Asperger’s Syndrome experience, makes sense to me because it helps me to understand and acknowledge how two females, both diagnosed with the same form of Autism, can respond to the demands of life so differently.

In our situation, my daughter’s diagnosis of AS alone, still does not provide me with enough of an explanation as to why my child behaves so aggressively at times.

Yes children with AS get overloaded with social stimuli, yes they have meltdowns,  yes they can  be aggressive, yes they like to be in environments that they are both familiar and comfortable with, but on the whole, do they willfully  seek to confront or act physically abusively  toward people, when asked to do something?

At the moment having a diagnosis of AS alongside a diagnosis of PDA provides me with a far clearer picture of what it is that  my child may be experiencing.

As a mother my goal is to try my best to understand and help my daughter.

I’m not trying to right the wrongs of the world in one foul swoop.

Nor argue semantics over whether or not PDA, as  a conceptual diagnosis on the whole, is either correct or valid for every individual with AS, as I suspect indeed, it is not.

And I have found that there are many parents out there who find the explanations that PDA offers a valuable way of helping and understanding their children.

So is PDA, as an explanation for aggressive behavior in children with AS a worthwhile path to go down?

Yes, I think it is, because what I do know is this;

It is better, although be it harder, to be a mother who is trying to help and understand her child, than to be a mother who is not.

It is better to be a mother who seeks information and accurate explanations that better fit her child’s experiences,  rather than being a mother who blindly follows whatever the current bells and whistles and ideas of the day, may be.

Especially when, as an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome, I know that there are too many stark differences to be found between my own and my daughter’s reactions to the world around us, to ever be adequately explained away via the use of just one diagnosis or one singular way of understanding Autism.

So I don’t think I’m wrong to question the value of finding additional diagnostic tools or ways of understanding Asperger’s Syndrome that may help to explain these differences.

Nor do I think that it’s wrong to logically seek to weigh up the pro’s and con’s behind an explanation that seems to fit, yet others find irksome.

I don’t think it’s wrong to ask those who have the privilege of knowing the PDA debate from the inside out, how they feel and what they think about it.

I think it would be wrong of me to do anything  otherwise.

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