Demand avoidance: when there’s nothing there
We all know the process. Child acts out, parent goes searching for the cause in order to help child and prevent future occurrence of negative behaviour. This makes sense. Find the cause and you’ll ‘correct’ the behaviour. After all, all behaviour is communication. But what happens when the parent cannot find the cause of said behaviour. What about when there is no cause?
When there’s nothing there.
I find it very hard sometimes to figure out why I don’t want to do something. Sometimes it can takes days to figure out why I’m adverse to a demand. Sometimes I never figure out why. Perhaps this is because there isn’t a reason. Does there have to be a reason for everything?
I know a lot of our demand avoidance comes from autism needs. Sensory issues and misunderstandings can make it hard for us to cope, so we avoid the situations entirely in order to avoid feeling negative emotions. We are perfectionists, so we want everything to be done right. If we know something is likely to get messed up because of a difference in thinking or acting then we’ll likely to avoid the situation to avoid it not being perfect. Being scared of repeating negative experiences, if we perceive something negative may occur, believe it won’t turn out how we want or we cannot control the situation, we will avoid.
There are so many reasons a PDAer will avoid something, but sometimes it feels like there just isn’t a reason. Sometimes it feels like there’s nothing there. I’m not the only one either, many have said they struggle to figure out the reason for their avoidance. That sometimes it feels like there isn’t a reason, that their PDA is just being stubborn or oppositional. It says something when even we feel like that. My brain can often (and often does) do the opposite of what I want. Shouting at yourself to “just do the fecking thing” and still not moving, that is hard. I think our brains and body are just hard-wired to be avoidant and oppositional.
Just in case anyone is in any doubt – demand avoidance is definitely not a choice.
So what do we do about non-existent reasons for avoidance. Or at least, difficult to find reasons. Well, we do what we normally do. Try to work around it, except without knowing the reason behind it. Some of us chalk it up to demand avoidance or anxiety. Maybe that is the reason. Maybe it’s just constant anxiety. I don’t know for sure. But we still have to deal with it, so while knowing the cause can be very helpful, sometimes we just have to work around the lack of knowledge. Or presume it’s anxiety and hope everything works out. I use my adult coping strategies, reverse psychology on myself or pretending the demand has gone away. Not thinking about the demand and just getting my body moving really helps me. Whatever works.
It would be interesting to know if our bodies are hard-wired to avoid for no particular reason. It may help others. I’ve been taking anxiety medication for the past two weeks and I do find myself feeling calmer and reacting less emotionally to events. My demand avoidance hasn’t changed at all though. The demands I avoided before are still the ones I avoid now, and with the same umph. But I’m less emotional about the whole thing. I suppose that’s good. But it just goes to show that anxiety may not be the be all and end all of PDA. Anxiety is def a main factor, but I think there is so much more to it, so much more we are still to discover. Maybe one day we’ll have all the answers. Till then, I’ll keep writing.