The consequences of not avoiding

Some might think that not avoiding demands is a good thing, that it means we can do all the stuff regular people do, that pushing through demand avoidance can only lead to a better life. However, there are consequences to not avoiding demands.

I’ve been trying to do more than normal recently, seeing the bridge between what I do everyday and what others in similar socio/economic situations do. I feel like I’m slacking, not working hard enough when there’s so much more that I can do. But pushing beyond my limits like this has negative consequences. I’ve been tired and ratty, snapping at everyone and feeling so exhausted that I just want to curl up on the sofa and ignore the world.

For those of us with jobs/education/houses/families/responsibilities it can be so hard for us to work at the same level as non-PDAers, yet we push ourselves to match their level then end up burning out. The energy both mentally and physically to work through demands is far higher for us PDAers than for any other neuro group. We need more breaks, more time to rest, fewer demands. But it’s easy to forget that and slip into negative thinking that we can do more if we try.

I personally, need a lot of downtime, so much that it looks to outsiders like laziness. I spend my downtime playing games, reading, eating and sleeping. I can’t sit around and do nothing, I need to keep active in some way. So it’s easy for others to look and see and say “oh she can manage to do all those things so why can’t she do everything else? It’s just laziness”. The thing is, I need to avoid demands, and one way of doing this is to procrastinate, usually on hobbies.

We PDAers need to avoid some demands. Giving in to the need to avoid is freeing. Demands are like trying to hold a heavy weight above my head, your body just wants you to let go of it but expectation or need keeps pushing to hold the demand until some crane can grab it from you. Sometimes it’s easier to just drop the weight and relish in the freedom.

Each PDAer may react differently to pushing against too many demands. I’m sure most will feel some sort of exhaustion or fatigue. Some may become unresponsive and lapse into shutdown, while others may become aggressive and lash out. It’s not just any single demand that can cause problems but sometimes it’s the continual build up of met demands that can have an averse effect.

This is why demand management is so important. We generally have an idea of how many demands we can fulfil in a day before it all gets too much. It does vary day to day based on mood, energy levels and how many demands we faced the day before. Some demands will naturally be harder than others. We have to see how we feel upon waking and work out how many demands we are likely to be able to face that day, then adjust accordingly. This means things like important phone calls may be put off for weeks in lieu of other demands or until we have the energy to face it.

We do need to make sure that we do take breaks when we notice our energy flagging. For me, I think I need to slow down a bit and realise that pushing beyond my ability affects not just me but the people around me. If that means appearing lazy to outsiders then so be it, at least I’ll have the energy available to be in a positive mood.

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3 thoughts on “The consequences of not avoiding

  1. Hi. This is really, really incredibly helpful. I am mum to a nearly 7 year old (has diagnosis of high functioning autism, not PDA , as yet!) . She seems to be completely masking her problems at school but her outbursts at home are incredible. I will be pushing for a diagnosis/ recognition of her needs, including the need for some down time at school. I was already thinking along those lines, but your post has just reinforced this. I am also thinking that as she gets older and demands increase ( we are already seeing a big negative change in P2 , as opposed to how she was in P1) , she might benefit from only attending school for 4 days instead of the full 5 days. There is now a new local autism strategy in place in our area ( we are in Midlothian , Scotland) that advocates a much more flexible and open minded approach to schooling , to ensure pupils with autism are able to cope in mainstream, including the option of reduced hours. In the meantime, we shall definately continue with our ‘pyjama mornings’ on Saturdays and allow for plenty of downtime. as a matter of interest, how on earth did you/ do PDA’ers cope with exams? My daughter loves to dance and attends a dance school, but it just occurred to me that they are doing exams next year. When I mentioned this to my daughter and explained to her what exams are( maybe I shouldn’t have done this ) , she immediately said ” I don’t want to do it”. Ach well , maybe nearer the time I will just have to explain to the dance school and work with them to disguise the demands that an exam would involve. Her dance teacher keeps saying she is an amazing dancer who has lots of talent.

    1. Hi, yes reduced hours might be beneficial, especially if the day off is in the middle of the week. I don’t know how other PDAers react/ed to exams, probably with great stress and avoidance. I never took exams seriously and although I still felt ill before, during and after, I did get through them okay. If exams can be avoided I would advocate for that but some obviously cannot be avoided so disguising them and making them sound easy and fun is best. Some people find things like exams easier to manage if they know they can quit at any time, I don’t know if that would work for your daughter. It’s great that she’s so good at dancing and enjoys it too 🙂

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