I have a diagnosis of Asperger’s. When I first learnt about Autism I thought the label fit me. As it’s a spectrum it made sense that not everything applied to myself. I am terrible at maths. There’s not really any ‘one’ thing that I’m good at. I don’t have one particular obsession. Routine doesn’t work for me, never has. I have a good imagination. I can be quite sociable, at least at first, once people get to know me it becomes apparent that I don’t quite ‘fit’. And a few other things.
But I had plenty of the traits, enough for a diagnosis anyway. I have trouble socially. I don’t ‘get’ emotions. I stim (a lot). I have some ‘obsessions’, a few which I tend to flit between. I have sensory issues. I don’t know when to finish a conversation or leave a place. I struggle understanding others and their viewpoints. I have problems with coordination and motor skills. Literal thinking. Problems recognising sarcasm and jokes. Meltdowns and shutdowns. And other traits.
Still, something didn’t quite add up. I looked into other co-morbids. I searched ADHD, OCD, SPD etc. Nothing fitted the slot I had open, nothing filled the hole that Autism hadn’t quite filled. There was something else there, but what? Then a chance sighting on the internet finally showed me what I’d been looking for. The answer to my lingering questions. PDA. Pathological demand avoidance. A sub-type of Autism and the thing that explained why I wasn’t quite Autistic but ticked enough of the boxes.
I am Autistic, to some degree. There’s still some debate as to whether PDA should be on the Autism spectrum or a separate diagnosis of it’s own. As far as I’m concerned it’s part of the spectrum. PDA people have traits of Autism but they also have traits which differ from Autistic people. Having a good imagination, so much so that PDA people can become completely absorbed in it. Appearing sociable to a higher level than most Autistic people but lacking depth which points at communication difficulties similar to Autism. Displaying a level of manipulation unusual of Autistic people. A dislike of routine dissimilar to Autistic preferences. A need to avoid demands which cannot be explained just by difficulties such as SPD or social anxiety.
Many PDA people are turned away for a ASD diagnosis because they don’t quite fit the profile. Unfortunately there are few professionals who recognise PDA and even few who are willing to diagnose it. There’s not as much awareness of PDA as there is of Autism, and there’s still not enough of that either.
I’m glad I found out about Autism. I proud to be Autistic. I’m also proud to have PDA. Together the two have made quite an impression on my life and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. Sure I have difficulties, who doesn’t, NT, ND, everybody. We just have to learn to cope with what life has given us and improve our lives the way we want to.