If your child has already received an Autism diagnosis, chances are high that you were “welcomed” into the world of ASD with a 100-page document from Autism Speaks, followed by a 3-page list of ABA and behavior-based resources in your area. If your child received an ADHD or Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) diagnoses, you were likely presented with behavioral strategies and parenting tips to be stricter, more consistent and follow through on boundaries. It is important to know that - in spite of what certain clinicians and professionals will tell you - a behavioral approach simply won't help or support the PDA child and can actually put them at risk of complex trauma and nervous system burnout.
Alternatively, if you are without a diagnosis that truly "fits," confused and lost in the wilderness of acronyms, or watching your child's behavior worsen with reward-punishment-based behavioral programs, this is your permission and starting point to take another path.
Unfortunately, the Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) profile is often missed by professionals or misdiagnosed. There are two reasons for this: It is not yet a category for diagnosis in Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-5) and because PDA produces paradoxical behavior that challenges the conventional wisdom on what is defined as "Autistic" (e.g. These children can often make great eye contact, have strong verbal skills, and a strong interest in social engagement).
Although PDA is not (currently) a category for diagnosis in the U.S., it is real, and Casey and the At Peace Parents Team are at the forefron bringing awareness to the medical community, therapeutic circles, educational settings, families and friend circles. Casey is here with you, truly where the rubber hits the road, in her home, with her PDA child, figuring out how to support them, day in and day out.
So here’s our recommendation: Throw that Autism Speaks file in the trash, abandon those reward-punishment models that don't work for your kid and that make you feel like a crappy parent, and use this resource list instead!
Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)
Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome: My Daughter is Not Naughty
PDA by PDAers: From Anxiety to Avoidance and Masking to Meltdowns
Parenting a neurodivergent child
- The Whole-Brain child
- Declarative Language Handbook
- Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World
- Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children's Behavioral Challenges
- Brain Body Parenting
- The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children
- Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life
- Love Me, Feed Me: The Foster and Adoptive Parent's Guide to Responsive Feeding
Autism and Sensory
- All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum
- Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism (Chapters 4-6 are especially relevant to understanding the PDA child)
- Neurotribes by Steve Silberman
- Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder
- The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder
- No Longer A Secret: Unique Common Sense Strategies for Children with Sensory or Motor Challenges
- Understanding your Child's Sensory Signals
Nervous system and trauma
- Polyvagal Theory steven Porges
- The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (Good explanation of what happens to our bodies when we go into "fight or flight." Helpful for understanding the PDA child's experience)
- What happened to you (Oprah and Dr. Perry)
Spiritual growth and finding meaning as a parent
- Wintering by Katherine May
- Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
- When things fall apart Pema Chodron
- Boundary Boss: The Essential Guide to Talk True, Be Seen, and (Finally) Live Free
- Man's Search for Meaning
- The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self
- When bad things happen to good people
- To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings
- Let your life speak
All the books in one place