Revised thoughts about PDA.

I have written before about Pathological Demand Avoidance. I fit a lot of the criteria and see so much of me in it. But, having done more reading, as I always do more reading and never think I know it all, I have changed my views on it.

As with many people, I hate the name, especially the “pathological” part. But I’ve always hated the name, and the medicalisation of the group of people labelled with PDA, so that’s not news.

What has changed is that I can now understand the objections that some prominent autistics have to not just the label but also the framing of PDA. This piece by Damien Milton is very well written, though may need reading more than once to fully understand the points he’s making.

And so I now realise that PDA is not a “subset” of autism. And neither is Aspergers. And I no longer think you can distinguish between the PDA and Aspergers profiles. Yes, my daughter fits a lot of the criteria for the former, and my son the latter, but there are much more overlapping similarities between them than differences.

I wrote before about why I hate distinguishing between Aspergers and Autism. And it was hypocritical of me to then do the same to PDA. They are all just flavours and hues of autism.

I do understand why PDA, “atypical” Autism, “female” autism etc were conjured up. The criteria and checklists for “typical” autism miss so many of us. But instead of creating new categories of autism, new labels etc, I feel it would be more useful to have better, more inclusive, criteria.

I had thought PDA would be useful for explaining my daughter’s behaviour to her teachers. But have noticed I’ve never used the term PDA when talking to them. I just explain her traits as her personal autistic nuances. It does take more explaining as she doesn’t present as “typically” as her brother. But they are both just as autistic as each other, and just as unique. Like all autistics.

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