Monday 9 October 2023

Low Demand Parenting {Book Review}

Low Demand Parenting is a recently published book that I think many parents and carers of PDA individuals will find helpful. The author, Amanda Diekman, is a late-diagnosed autistic mother of three neurodivergent boys. 'Dropping Demands, Restoring Calm and Finding Connection with your Uniquely Wired Child' is the strapline and this describes precisely the whole ethos of the book - the aim being to help parents learn how to find ways to help the whole family thrive.

whote book cover with text low-demand parenting dropping demands, restoring calm and finding connection with your uniquely wired child

There are 12 chapters, 158 pages in this book, including a great 26-page resource section at the back. Chapter 1 begins by setting the scene, explaining how parenthood was going for Amanda before a realisation that there needed to be a change. Although the book doesn’t have PDA in the title, understanding of PDA is shown on every page and Amanda writes about her own lightbulb moment:

I joined an online support group of other parents, whose children were anxious and explosive like mine. I recognised myself and my kids in so many stories..... In this support group, I first heard the words "Pathological Demand Avoidance" (PDA), a little-known profile of autism. The first time I read the words "PDA is an anxiety-driven need to remain in control," I felt my stomach drop. I stayed up way too late, absorbing every drop of information I could find. This was real. This had a name. At last, I found a community that could help me see, understand, and connect with my suffering son.

Chapters 2 and 3 take us through a more general introduction to neurodiversity, titled The Neuroscience of Connection and Uniquely Wired Kids. Chapter 4 brings in the very important question "What are demands?" and within this there is a section about what "can't, not won't" means, and a whole host of prompts to help families think about and identify all the many demands of daily life, both big and tiny, from obvious to almost invisible. Chapters 5, 6 and 7 are packed full of examples and practical advice on how to drop demands and Amanda mentions one of my favourite questions - "Why?". We need to ask ourselves why more often. Why do we have all these rules and expectations?

Chapters 8 and 9 are about low demand parenting and screen time, a big topic and a source of concern for many families. I feel Amanda does this justice, beginning with the statement: "Screens and technology are kyrptonite in so many families, that one area where low-demand feels too hard, the one place where parents put their foot down to insist that adults must keep control or else kids will spiral indefinitely". The shame that many adults feel about screen time is explored:

"When I first released my tight hold around screen-time, I didn't know who to tell. It was a major change in our family cuture, but would anyone understand? Or would they simply judge me as a lax, permissive parent, taking the easy road by slapping my children in front of screens so I could scroll Instagram in peace?" 

Chapters 10 and 11 are about co-parenting, and working with a partner when you have differing expectations to begin with. This includes considering why it can be difficult when you have different parenting styles, how this can affect relationships and what we can do to help this situation (spoiler alert, listening and communication are key! But Amanda writes it much better than me, with examples). The final chapter of the book is a positive summary, observing how we can move towards a thriving, low-demand future.

Amanda can be found offering PDA info online on Instagram at @LowDemandAmanda. Plenty of practical advice and tips for helping support PDA children can be found throughout this book and I highly recommend it for all families of PDAers. Available now from Amazon: Low Demand Parenting.

white back cover. low demand parenting requires radical acceptance. It says to the kid right in front of you: I see you, just as you are. You are OK here. i love you right here.

*This post contains affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you click and buy. It won't cost you any extra*

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