PATHOLOGICAL DEMAND AVOIDANCE IS A RARE BEHAVIOUR PROFILE THAT CAN BE FOUND IN THOSE ON THE AUTISTIC SPECTRUM. USE THESE TIPS TO REDUCE ANXIETIES AND CREATE SOME CALM FOR EVERYONE.
1. Understand that PDA is a rare behaviour profile of someone on the autism spectrum and not a phase that you can discipline out of a child.2. Understand that PDA comes from an extreme reaction to stress and anxiety. You need to stay calm as the child will get more anxious as they feel your emotional reactions towards them.
3. Learn to see meltdowns as a severe panic attack. A meltdown is a crisis that the child needs support to manage.
4. Rethink how you manage behaviour – Consequences will not work and will only make things worse for everyone.
5. Work on building a relationship of trust between yourself and the child with PDA. The child needs to feel safe with you and that you understand their needs.
6. Change your language – Do not give direct instructions like “ Come and sit at the table” instead say “We should do this work at the table”. When asking a child to do something even in a non-direct way you must keep your voice and tone of voice calm. A stressed voice will raise their anxieties.
7. Learn the signs of anxiety that the individual with PDA displays you can then adjust your expectations in accordance. Often children with PDA can only take so much demand even non-direct demands. You may find that if all is calm at school then the child has no capacity to except any form of demand at home or vice versa. Good positive communication between home and school is key.
8. Give choices as to things that must be done – “Would you like a bath or shower?” In school there maybe no choice over when the lessons happen but can they choose where the work is completed? Can the child have a choice over the medium used to record the learning outcome?
9. Use a daily planner or visual timetable so activities can be visualised, and anxieties can be discussed, where possible allow the day’s order to be decided upon by the child.
10. Do not offer direct praise as this can cause anxieties instead praise the out come. Instead of saying “ You have done a fantastic peace of writing” you could say “ I really like how well presented this peace of work is,” or at home instead of saying ‘Well done for making for making your bed” you could say “ wow the bed looks so comfy now