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Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)
PDA is not uncommon in the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community.
In my experience, there is no specific neurological basis for PDA. It is a learned behavior as a response to emotional trauma or abuse. It is a person’s adopted strategy to avoid additional failure and/or criticism.
Because many ASD persons tend to think differently and do things differently, they may experience a great deal of criticism and/or failure (either real or perceived) growing up.
This perceived criticism and/or failure may continue through much of an ASD person’s childhood and may lead to an avoidance of any perceived demand or responsibility.
Ideally, the foundation for overcoming PDA is in addressing the source of the resistance, often the original childhood events. This can often be achieved with a number of appropriate therapies or professional coaching.
As the trauma is addressed and the resistance to commitment diminishes, avoidance behaviors can gradually be replaced with new strategies appropriate to the person’s needs and neurological profile.
These new success strategies may include daily stress reduction, sensory processing exercises, guided imagery, S.M.A.R.T. Goals, etc. Many of these tools are detailed in “Waves—Not Spoons: 101 Strategies for Managing Our Physical, Emotional and Social Energy”.