Anyone know any adults with Pathological Demand Avoidance?

(65 Posts)
SilkStalkings Tue 24-Apr-12 16:57:00

Trying to get a picture in my head of our future as DS2 has just been referred to CAMHs re poss PDA. From the brief bit of reading I've done one would assume that most DX'd adults are in prison! Someone give me some examples of how PDA adults live/cope, positive or otherwise please. Aspie tendencies are fairly easy to spot and we have family role models on the spectrum anyway so I've not had this problem with our AS DS1.

OP’s posts: |
auntevil Tue 24-Apr-12 18:05:38

I only know of 1 man whose friends are helping to try to get a dx of PDA.
The only thing I know about him and work is that he can only manage voluntary work ( he's reasonably high functioning) because he cannot cope with rules of the workplace.
His theory is that if he isn't paid, he doesn't have to turn up and he isn't expected to do anything that he doesn't want to do, then he can cope. Apparently 1 place put him on the books and it started to go downhill from there - no shows, late, questioning all requests etc
I know that the friends are also helping him with some life skills - at his request. Perhaps thats the way forward when an adult, recognising that sometimes you need to ask others for help - even if your parents have been trying to show you for years!

SilkStalkings Tue 24-Apr-12 18:14:16

Yep parents are always the last people you'll listen togrin.

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StarshitTerrorise Tue 24-Apr-12 18:18:16

Probably my Dad. He was a teacher and a bloody good one. He was always in trouble for pissing Ofsted/SLT and even health and safety off but his kids in his class always made the most progress than any others in the school.

He argued with everyone about everything and was always right. Not helped by regularly getting excellent results.

sazale Tue 24-Apr-12 19:28:38

My sister who is 36 next week has just been diagnosed with ODD but I've suspected PDA for a long time! I read about PDA when my dd 13 started undergoing assessment with CAMHS and she has been diagnosed mild/moderate ASD with traits of ADHD and demand avoidance problems. When I read the info about PDA to my Mum I though she was going to burst into tears as for the first time she started to realise that things with my sister may not have been her fault. Now 18 months later she has been Diagnosed with ODD.

My sisters story is not a great one unortunately. Ill not post it as i dont want to worry you more than you are already. I posted this to say that her story is because she spent all her life with the wrong support from family and no support from services. You also have to remember that personality still pays a part in all of it as well! Knowledge is power and you already have that by knowing that your son has these difficulties. Amongst all the drama my sister could have sold snow to the Eskimos and never got a prison sentence even though many times she should have! With the right support I do believe she would probably have been as successful as Richard Branson!.

SilkStalkings Tue 24-Apr-12 21:50:41

Thanks. Yeah I probably shouldn't have watched One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest the other nightgrin. I know he'll be as fine as we can make him, the rest will depend on him - and he is a lovely Dr Jeckyll. He starts infant school in Sep and they will be ready for him.
Plus I have an emergency back-up plan! If things ever do start to go tits up at school I'm pretty sure my folks would be able to pay for him to go a montessori-esque private school that is a do-able drive away (because we'd never afford it!). I think that school would be good with PDA, at conning him into learning, it's a bit like paying someone else to home-ed him.

OP’s posts: |
Chundle Wed 25-Apr-12 09:16:31

My dd has a sports coach who has ADHD and I suspect probably an element of PDA! He is an amazing coach and could've been a pro sportsman. He is very very talented in his chosen sport but his outspokenness and attitude as a youngster prob held him back which is a great shame. He's an amazing guy with a wife who adores the kids he coaches and gives 100% effort

newlife4us Thu 26-Apr-12 11:07:58

I'm really keen to hear replies to this one too!

DS was diagnosed with PDA very recently and from the articles I've read it seems that crime and insitutions is the norm! I was relieved to get a diagnosis but am terrified for his future. From what I've been told, however, PDA has only been recently recognized and , hence, the majority of adults with this have not had the right type of help. My GP drew a picture of the autostic spectrum and said that with help a person with PDA sits on the borderline of aspergers and the bottom end of a normal man. I did find this reassuring and am now pressing for him to get the help he needs.

I don't where you are or whether you are already aware, but there's a conference on 15th May in Bournemouth organized by the Wessex Autistic Society. The experts on PDA from the Elizabeth Newson Centre and Phil Christie who wrote the leading book on this are speaking. I'll come back with a link, if you'd like it.

I'm really hoping someone comes on here with some positive news!


HotheadPaisan Thu 26-Apr-12 11:33:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Parasaurolophus Thu 26-Apr-12 11:39:35

I don't find PDA to be a useful diagnosis at all, and it is only recognised in the UK and is not, and will not be, in the DSM. Now, I don't think the DSM is the be-all/end-all of diagnosis, but they do some very serious epidemiological work to determine what is, and is not a real diagnosis and PDA does not have that much science behind it. Also, how can an unwillingness to follow demands possibly have a biological basis? This is all about the environment.

What I don't like about it is that it places all the blame on the child, and none on the environment. Now, if a diagnosis of PDA can help parents and teachers more willing to make changes to expectations or environment, then it is great. If a diagnosis of PDA means people stop thinking of a child as "naughty", that is great.

But what I really suspect is that in these cases, the child's ability and the expectations are not aligned. I'd hope that changing the environment and teaching strategies should help a lot, and it isn't necessary to pathologise the child.

The good news is that because PDA isn't a very well understood condition, there isn't any reason to really worry about long term outcomes. If you can teach your child to learn and make friends, then you are doing very well.

HotheadPaisan Thu 26-Apr-12 11:55:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

themightyfandango Thu 26-Apr-12 14:12:32

My 11yr old is very demand avoidant. He has ASD traits but is not quite Aspergers or HFA iyswim. I agree with the poster above who said with the right support a person could be at the top end of 'normal'.
Luckily my DS is now in a great school that is managing his needs well and we are trying to do the same at home.
We had an incident this morning, he was getting ready for school fine then I made the mistake of saying why don't you fit in ten minutes of music practise whilst I am getting the other DC ready. Massive mistake! He went into meltdown running around the house, shouting 'i'm lindsay lohan' confused over and over and I ended up having to drag him to the car half dressed. He calmed down by the time we arrived at school though.

We are still learning grin

popgoestheweezel Thu 26-Apr-12 15:11:31

For me, PDA has explained everything about my ds's behaviour and everything about my own too. Discovering PDA has been an incredibly useful and empowering thing.
Ds, me and my dad are all extremely demand avoidant, none of us have a diagnosis (although ds has been seen by paed who feels he 'shows characteristics of PDA'. We are now waiting to see them for a follow up appt).
Ask any of us to do anything and we all immediately resist, whatever the request or even suggestion.
My mum and dad have loads of stories of how I was as a child- they took me to the doctors and I trashed the surgery rather than submit to an examination, the time after that I kicked him blush. My dad once took me to playschool in the car and I refused to get out until he took me home and brought me back in the other car. I refused to dress or feed myself for a long time and there are dozens more examples.
I HATED school with an passion and did the bare minimum of work to get by. I could never work out how my friends could just submit and do as they were told, I couldn't understand that they didn't feel the overwhelming sense of panic that I felt. I managed to comply just enough to avoid repercussions and I ended up with mostly Bs at GCSE, which was a miracle considering the lack of work. My parents were told I 'wasn't sixth form material' and I (gladly) left that school and went to a sixth form college for A levels. I did much better there because the pressure was reduced. Fortunately, I then chose a degree with few lectures, it was pretty much self directed learning, and in the end got a 2:1. It was definitely the case that the less teaching I had the more I learnt.
For the last 15 years though I have been successfully running my own business and I truly believe I could not have worked for anyone else- it just wouldn't have worked out. Now I have people working for me- so much nicer grin So, I've never been in prison grin and I am very happy with the way my life has turned out so far.
I think the thing that made the most difference for me was my parents never putting any pressure on me. They have always been incredibly relaxed, supportive, non-punative parents and used PDA handling techniques intuitively. They say many friends thought that they were spoiling my sister and I, but compared to the children of those same friends, my sister and I look the most well balanced by a long way. With authoritarian parenting though, I am sure I would have chosen a highly self-destructive path.

HotheadPaisan Thu 26-Apr-12 15:20:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

popgoestheweezel Thu 26-Apr-12 15:28:09

Parasaurolophus, 'If you can teach your child to learn and make friends, then you are doing very well'
I don't think it's necessary for children with PDA to teach them to learn, afterall, learning is what every child does without even trying. What is incredibly hard for a person with PDA is to submit to being taught (very different to learning) as it happens in a conventional school. As mentioned earlier in this thread the montessori method is ideal for PDA types but schools are generally constrained by more traditional teaching methods.
I often fantasise about home ed for my dc, but I know I haven't got enough patience to handle the friction between the two of them. I'm sure if there was just ds though it would very rewarding. My other fantasy is Summerhill school but I don't think I could bear them to be away from me all term.

HotheadPaisan Thu 26-Apr-12 16:12:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Parasaurolophus Thu 26-Apr-12 16:58:42

I am glad that the PDA diagnosis can be helpful and I don't want to detract from that. I do hold that the epidemiology is weak and the science behind PDA is thin.

But -- if the diagnosis helps people better understand how to structure the environment, than it definitely has some uses.

A diagnosis of PDA definitely pathologises a child. It is called Pathological Demand Avoidance. Pathology is in the title.

HotheadPaisan Thu 26-Apr-12 17:04:08

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HotheadPaisan Thu 26-Apr-12 17:05:31

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HotheadPaisan Thu 26-Apr-12 17:11:02

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SilkStalkings Thu 26-Apr-12 20:50:55

Thanks for coming out guysgrin.
I don't think one can say that because something is behavioural it must have environmental causes - if that's what you were saying Parasolofowotsit? I assume there must be a flush of adrenalin perhaps caused by a particular thought process, all happening very quickly in the brain. An Aspergers lady on MN (AmberNNNN) once described her condition as having a brain that takes in environmental data much faster and more comprehensively than NT people, so fast and furious it becomes like interence and noise, which made sense to me. Thinking about the sensory stuff, the communication delay (baby/toddler so busy trying to get through/process the day that speech and social stuff go down the priority list) stimming and focusing for a bit of blessed relief from it all etc.) If PDA is a spectrum thing then perhaps the concept of demand is a particular neural pathway formula (or something more scientifically accurate, ykim) and theirs has a little alarm on it or maybe it's shorter and gets processed quicker than everything else
In terms of my DS2's environment, he has an NT sister with no behavioural issues and an AS brother who also has none. He was breastfed, slinged, co-slept, fish oils and all the other clichés SN mums often beat themselves up about if they didn't manage to do every single one (like I did after DS1). We are a remarkably calm, chilled out household considering, though not doormats, and there is just no reason why he should behave the way he does, why he doesn't learn by rote. Why he still goes nuts on the schoolrun 3/5 days of a week as if walking to school is something we've never done and I must be a mad woman to think my little Stewie Griffin could possibly attempt it. Reading the full description of PDA was a revelation for us, it's so much more than just not doing what he's told, it explains a whole load of other eccentricities. The fact that we have naturally developed certain ways of dealing with him that match those of Newson's guidelines, that our experience with NT kids and autistic ones hasn't been any use at all. Getting a proper DX will be useful simply because nobody is going to believe any of us without one.
Newlife4us I'm going to the Bournemouth PDA conference! See you theregrin.

OP’s posts: |
SilkStalkings Thu 26-Apr-12 20:56:28

I wonder how people with PDA react to hypnotic suggestion. Will ask at the conference!

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HotheadPaisan Thu 26-Apr-12 21:04:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

popgoestheweezel Fri 27-Apr-12 11:31:32

Silkstalkings, pretty much same environmental factors here; breastfed til 11 mths, fish oils, calm household, very well behaved sister, no upheavals of any kind (no death, no divorce, no health problems, never even moved house), close knit extended family, good diet, limited screen time, regular bedtimes, but still he goes nuts over nothing.

Every little element of life can provoke a meltdown, we still have to dress him, wash his face and clean his teeth, every bath/shower provokes a meltdown, he won't wash his hands, won't put on his own shoes, constantly hurts his sister for no logical reason, the list goes on...

This morning the walk to school was accompanied by screaming, shouting, crying, punching and kicking. I am almost immune to the stares and comments of others but it is still hard to bear. Apparently it was because his shoes were getting wet in the rain but really its the nervous anticipation of another day of school related demands. When we got to school he said ' I don't want to stay here on my own without you, I'm going to get shouted at. I'm not like all these other children, they don't like me' sad

For me, pathological is exactly the right word: "characterised by an unhealthy compulsion". It is a compulsion and it is unhealthy, for me and for ds. Silkstalkings "the concept of demand is a particular neural pathway formula (or something more scientifically accurate, ykim) and theirs has a little alarm on it or maybe it's shorter and gets processed quicker than everything else" I think this is a great way of describing it. The problem with childhood is that your entire life is taken up with doing as adults tell you and that neural pathway alarm is constantly ringing!

PurplePidjin Fri 27-Apr-12 11:46:49

And very very apocryphal anecdote...

A very friendly lady who works in my local shop has a son with a dx of PDA (possibly among other things?) I run into her every few months for a brief chat, we first chatted when I worked in a local pub around 8 years ago when dc was primary age. I last saw her 5-6 months ago. She confides in me both because she's very friendly and she knows what I do for a living.

After 8 years of SS, she is enjoying being a parent and the company of her son, who is mid teens. They have both learned strategies to cope, he has some education behind him, and she generally appears far less stressed and harassed now compared with then.

Like I say, a very distant acquaintance who I see briefly and rarely (apart from a couple of decent chinwags from opposite sides of a bar years ago!) but from the outside/body language etc seems very positive...

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