Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Postscript on Demand Avoidance

Though the bit about having an involved fantasy life and doing a lot of pretend play definitely describes me, the rest of the description of Demand Avoidance does not hold true for me. Indeed, my capacity to pretend is the one way in which I am not a textbook Aspie.

Specifically, the things in Newson's diagnostic criteria for PDA that stick out as obviously not me are "essentially socially manipulative" avoidance strategies, normal ability and inclination to interact socially, people-directed interests, and demand avoidance*. In all of those things, the notes in the sidebar contrasting PDA children with autistic/AS children are more likely to describe me than is the main body of text describing only PDA children.

PDA characteristics I do have are (obviously) imagination, but also mood lability, passivity and identification with adults/ignorance of what is age-appropriate. Many of these are also part of AS, and the last one would seem to go hand-in-hand with any kind of atypical development pattern. If you aren't developing at the same rate or in the same order as your peers, of course you'll have a shaky grasp of what's "normal" for your age!

I think my lack of social awareness and total inability to read the emotions of people around me clearly mark me as AS rather than PDA, imagination notwithstanding.

*When I do avoid demands, it tends to be more incidental than purposeful. I miss a lot of socially relevant signals, and missed even more as a child.

1 comment:

Ettina said...

I think 'socially manipulative' demand avoidance is a very poor choice of words. A better phrase might be 'indirect' demand avoidance, because rather than just saying 'I won't do it' a lot of PDA kids will try various other ways to avoid the demand. (Not to say that we *don't* do the more direct refusal, but that kind of thing is also common in non-PDA autistics.)
And you have to be aware of the demand to avoid it - otherwise it doesn't count.