I work with the most loving, compassionate, conscious, aware, well researched, giving, skilled, knowledgable, & committed parents you can ever imagine!
PDA Parents, and by that I mean parents and carers to children, young people and adults diagnosed with Pathological Demand Avoidance (or suspected PDA.)
In years gone by I’ve worked as a Parent Coach, taught Gentle Parenting Classes (and supported parents in surviving the mainstream ones). I’ve worked as a Therapist, and in both mainstream and special needs schools, so I’ve met lots of beautiful parents and children, but THIS journey of being a parent to a child or young person with PDA takes us to new places together. It takes us to new levels of awareness and it’s so exciting to journey together!
These parents, my friends, are loving parents & yet also carers, & expert advocates for their children.
Everyday my heart is touched by the love and generosity of the parents to these beautiful PDA souls that we’ve been gifted guardianship of in this lifetime.
Life as a PDA parent can be hard.
Really hard sometimes!
It can be unnecessarily isolating, seriously undervalued, & entirely lacking in support.
Know I say that without any desire to change the fact I have the most amazing PDAer!
My life is beautiful and my child shines out like the light they are!
It’s took me a long time to write about the struggles PDA Parents face as I’ve considered carefully that one day my child will read these musings and think “Is it me? Am I a burden? Do I make life hard?”
…And NO my darling, YOU are my greatest gift and the treasure that’s made my life and heart burst open. I feel truly blessed beyond measure to be your Mum and have so much fun being with you.
It’s the world I wish to speak to of change, not you.
But, as PDA parents we smile and say everything’s fine, even when it’s not, because the world isn’t really ready to hear the challenges we live. When they do we seem to get the message back that it’s something we are creating, choosing to make hard, or are making a meal out of it & we should do something about. This is what we hear rather than just offering the love, space to be heard, and support we are longing for.
But, mostly we smile and say we are OK because we want to protect our sensitive precious children and the truth that sometimes we DO struggle to do all that needs doing and that alone invites in opinions, judgement, and pressure that help no one and break our hearts further and further.
We want to protect our children, rightly so, from deficit thinking, from feeling they are a problem because to us they are perfect.
When we ask for support there seems to be a mindset that hears
’Please change my child to make life easier’
and NO we just mean give us a hand!
- My washing up needs doing and my child needs me to be with them all day so could you wash up for me?
- My child needs some sensory toys to help them regulate them so could you help me pay for them?
- My child can’t be safe in a car park but we need to go to the shop so could you drive us and drop us by the door or could you give us a disabled parking badge as they have an ‘invisible’ disability?
- My child is really sick and needs to see a GP but is deeply anxious and unable to attend the surgery so could you please come to our home and come in calmly and gently to see them?
- I need a shower and I need someone we know well to roleplay being a dog with my child for half an hour so they are comfortable for me to go.
You know, actual real help that comes from kindness and understanding, and from RELATIONSHIP!
I can’t emphasise the relationship part enough. It’s the most overlooked aspect of care and support. We can’t just have a random person come into our homes and into our lives and call that help, however trained they may be.
When we feel overburdened and wrung out we don’t want our children to believe it’s because of them.
Because it’s not!
So we hide it.
We know we need more support YES! – that’s true, but with the understanding of what that means.
The building of trust, of relationship, of consistency, connection, & respect that happens over time.
Of a tribe who is present and loving us & celebrating us as we are.
I think all families do really – we are not meant to be so isolated from our family & community as most of us are.
Our beautiful PDA children have been born into a world made up of systems that work against everything their instincts seek out.
They are word changers for sure!
They need freedom but society has systems in place from home to school that push against their very nature but insist that they ram, and we in turn ram their square pegged little self into that big round societal hole.
They can’t, we can’t, and don’t want to!!!
They can fake it a while sometimes, they can mask and learn ways to please people enough but it will spill out somewhere.
Maybe it will explode out and become aggressive or abusive behaviour, or maybe it will go inwards and corrode their mental health, but it cannot be tamed or pushed out of them.
We hold space for them to be who they are and bring the gifts they bring.
Please hold space for us as we do!
In the end there doesn’t have to be anyone who understands you, there just has to be someone who wants to