Sunday, 24 February 2019

The PDA Paradox: Highs and Lows of Pathological Demand Avoidance

There's a new PDA book out right now, called The PDA Paradox. Written by Harry Thompson, a young adult diagnosed with Pathological Demand Avoidance in his teenage years, this is a book which I totally recommend for any parent of a child with PDA, and any others trying to understand this profile of autism. 
The PDA Paradox book cover
I bought my copy yesterday and read half of it last night until my eyes wouldn't stay open any longer and the other half this morning. It's unlike me to be able to devour a book as I rarely set time aside for reading, but this book was un-put-downable! 
It is a fascinating run through of Harry's life, covering (as he puts it himself) 'the highs and lows' of his life 'on a little-known part of the autism spectrum'. He writes about early years and school years, and on through work experiences, with many explanations of thoughts and feelings from a PDA perspective backing up all his actions over the years.

Harry's use of language is gorgeous; articulate and flowing, witty and intelligent. The book is entertaining and having read it once, I know I will read it again, something which I rarely do with books. The book has been published by the very well respected Jessica Kingsley Publishers and can be ordered via them or all good bookstores!

Even though Harry's experiences are of course different to Sasha's in many ways, there were still so many parts of the book where I could imagine that Sasha feels exactly how Harry has described it. One example I can give is the part where he describes the need to see that his mum had arrived safely at school to collect him every day. He writes 'I would not be able to stop looking at the clock the entire lesson until it struck three.... My heart would be racing away, and I felt as if I had to go out and check to see if my mother was there just in case something might've happened to her'.

This extreme emotion and overwhelming need is something I see in Sasha in various situations. In another section, Harry writes about a time when he decided to try to conform; this is an example of his wonderfully honest and emotive writing style: 'I'd sit in class and try my hardest to pay attention and follow what the teacher was saying. So...damn...hard. I would exhaust myself just by trying. The room would be abuzz with seductive and annoying noises; flies, heaters, chairs and desks creaking. My heart thudding away in my chest would feel like it was a man buried alive in a coffin trying to scratch his way to freedom.' 
Stephs Two Girls, Isaac Russell, Harry Thompson, PDA Parenting
I was delighted when Harry invited me and Danielle from PDA Parenting along to his book launch event, to share our experiences of being a parent to a child with PDA. Isaac Russell, another young adult diagnosed with PDA was also invited, and his brilliant, insightful video was shown. 
Around sixty people gave up a Saturday morning to come and hear us all speak and I'm hoping they all gained as much from the experience as I did. Both Isaac and Harry answered questions from the event attendees, which is a nerve-wracking experience for many people, but they handled it all so well. I learnt even more from their answers and would urge anyone to attend any event where they might be. Hearing Harry's talk describing Pathological Demand Avoidance was a privilege, a real insight into the mind of a person with PDA. Other insightful videos can be found on Harry's YouTube channel.

Tears sprang to my eyes as I recognised emotions which I'm sure Sasha feels. I hope that when she's older, she would be able to be in touch with other adults like this and gain some comfort from not feeling so alone, feeling like she is the only one who is different. Of course I would never suggest that to her directly, as I suspect that would be counter-productive for someone with PDA.... just as Harry has done for himself so brilliantly, I hope she will find her own amazing path in life. 

Steph and Sasha

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To find out more about our experiences, please check out our 'About Us' page. If you are looking for more information on Pathological Demand Avoidance, the posts below may help.

Books about the Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) profile of autism

What is PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)?

Ten things you need to know about Pathological Demand Avoidance

Does my child have Pathological Demand Avoidance?

The difference between PDA and ODD

Strategies for PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)

Pathological Demand Avoidance: Strategies for Schools

Challenging Behaviour and PDA

Is Pathological Demand Avoidance real?

Autism with demand avoidance or Pathological Demand Avoidance?

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