Fantasy and role play

I’ve hesitated to write about this subject much because for me some parts are rather personal, however the subject can be an important part of a PDAers life and the lives of the people around them. In this blog post I will be sharing my fantasy and role play and how I use it in my life.


From a young age I have day dreamed fantasy worlds and stories based on those worlds, I can have quite a vivid imagination and especially enjoy taking worlds from TV/films and books and adapting them to fit my own creative scenarios. One of my favourite worlds is the Star Trek world. I would use the existing characters and include my own characters, making sure I kept the original characters and world as true to the original as possible. Often when reading a book I would stop and imagine myself or a character I created to barge into the story and save the characters or fix whatever was happening in the book. I guess I wanted to be the ‘big hero’ but I also don’t like watching characters I like struggling. I quite like creating new worlds but it takes me a while to imagine up it all, especially since I prefer it to be as realistic/plausible as possible, it is often easier to use an existing imagined world that others or I have created and just adapt that to what I wish to imagine happening. Due to my memory problems, I would constantly have to start over with stories because, while I am able to recall the world and characters I have created, I struggle to remember when in the story I was up to and what was happening.

I have certain worlds created for different purposes. There is one world which is just me and a therapist in a therapist’s room, this I use for problem solving. I can discuss ideas and problems I have here and pretend I am getting advice. Sort of like using an ideas board to bounce ideas off. This helps me as I am far better able to communicate in a day dream than in real life, and often the answer we are looking for is one we already have but just need time to come to terms with.

As far back as I can recall I’ve always day dreamed about being rescued from my life. I would imagine some distant relative appearing with a house all set up for me and lots of money. They would whisk me away from all my problems and make my life all better. As I’ve gotten older this type of dream has changed a little (now I imagine some distant relative has died and left me with a big house with servants and money), but the overall idea has stayed the same. Another day dream I have is that every other person on the planet disappears one day and I’m left alone, able to do whatever I want with nothing to stop me and no one to force me to do anything. While I don’t actually want my family to disappear, I do need a fair bit of alone time and I guess this day dream reflects that.

I also have a specific day dream where I have a bunch of friends in a specific world where I look the way I would prefer, I can act myself and no one judges me. I can be myself and these friends accept me and are themselves a little quirky. I day dream fun and fights, arguments and other bad things happen but this is good for me because in this world I am in charge, I am safe. I can say what I like and I don’t get hurt properly, I can end the story whenever I want to. It’s a way of exploring my feelings and desires in a safe setting where I am in charge, I decide what the other characters say and do, everything is predictable and erasable, unlike in real life.

Sometimes I create imaginary worlds and vastly different characters just to see what I can do with them and to explore how far I can push my imagination. I love to create new worlds and different stories. Taking time to escape from reality into a fictional world is a healthy hobby, that’s why books, TV programmes, films and games are so popular.

Role play.

Many PDAers use role play as a way of managing demands and their life. They pretend to be animals or they believe their toys or imaginary friends are real. Parents can use this to their advantage by asking ‘Tommy the teddy if he can help Simon to get ready for bed’ or telling ‘Emily the elephant that it’s time to brush her teeth (and maybe Jess with brush hers at the same time)’. As a child I had many toys and teddies which I believed were real and had thoughts and feelings of their own. This is fairly common in Autism, with many believing objects have feelings. Even though, as an adult, I know this isn’t actually possible, I still emotionally believe that objects and toys are alive.

As a child I pretended to be a dog, I used to act like a cat too. I actually believed I had the same traits as a cat and would lie in the sun sleeping and walk on all fours in a delicate way just like a cat would. I had numerous plastic toy animals who all had personalities and my teddies all had names. While on some level I believed they were alive and existed in their own little world, I never used them to avoid demands, which some children do.

My role play mixes with my fantasy world in that I day dream I am being filmed for a TV programme on a particular topic (chores, uni work, how a PDAer manages their day), this type of role play, where I play someone being filmed, helps me complete demands as I the character I am playing (often myself) has no problems meeting demands. Sometimes I imagine I’m an alien who has to pretend to be human and do all the usual human things to ‘fit in’. This does actually make completing demands easier. I have role played on trains that I’m on my way to a book launch, I have role played that I’m an undercover agent pretending to be a uni student who is actually monitoring other uni students, I have role played a gardener who is competing for a prize in a gardening competition. Anything that needs doing demand wise can be helped along by a little imaginative role play.

7 thoughts on “Fantasy and role play”

  1. Hello ๐Ÿ™‚ Great post and thanks so much for sharing this because it is personal. Your incite is greatly appreciated in helping us who care for PDA really understand things from the inside. I think you are awesome. xx

  2. Hello thank you for everything you share … Its grate reading ๐Ÿ™‚ Can you tell me if all people with PDA have souch fantasies ? I Ask because i realy have hard time throughput if i have PDA ore Asperges .
    I am way to late been diagnosed with Asperger and ADHD and because of that and my many bad experiences through the system I now also struggle with PTSD and a eating disorder since my early teens. My fantasy sucks i realy sucks like dead and in function at all. my fantasy only shine when I get lost in panick about things and it is as you write real stof worse case scenarios , that often really happens ore could happen , not the OCD like fantasy world when panicking… although as a child i had to magical friends , but i did not use them to avoid demands . Ioved dancing and dressing up like mickael Jackson and ect . I always liked being in school plays , but i have not beeng good at imagening play , i didt engage so much in reading fiction but loved reading real life looking and dokumentry , i was never a big fan of cartoons. I have always been able too think out of the box and been a error finder , but not so good at finding solutions . I am a systemiser with some missing feutures .. I am lousy to translate my knowlegde to any usefull way. I feel comfortable with routines but only if they are trustworthy …. I hate holidays they make be very fearfull and confuse. But my social skills are not strange , as a child and young i was very social but now I really dont think it at all , I would much rather me all day with my dogs and having very little human comuncation at all. I can really mask my difficulties for others until i get home and meltdown big time and my tank is very small after all the years really fighting to fit in and to find the meaning of my life on this earth and how to thrive … not with any luck ๐Ÿ˜ฆ so what do you think I am PDA or Aspi ? I really think i am both but , that gets me more confusing to help. I am a mother of to children they both have ASD , ADHD and Tourettes and are also atypical in some of there difficulties and abilities. I really nead to understand what the hell we just dont quite fitt in eny box but we fit a bit in every one off the boxes crazy to find advise then .. hope you will give me your upinion

    1. Hi, thanks for your message, sorry it took so long for you to be diagnosed. It’s hard to tell if you have PDA or not, one of the overridding features of PDA is the need to avoid all demands. Do you feel like it’s harder for you to just get up and do stuff? Does having to do something, regardless of what it is, make you feel anxious? Do you feel like it’s hard to do even the things you love, like there’s something stopping you? These are good indicators of demand avoidance. Autistic/asperger people can develop demand avoidance, sometimes to the degree that it looks exactly like PDA so it can be hard to tell which it is. Usually though, non-PDA people have a reason for their demand avoidance such as sensory issues or executive functioning or a bad experience in a situation or environment, so it’s important to look at whether demand avoidance has always been present or if it’s started after a problem and whether demand avoidance is present in many areas of life or in just certain situations. Have you tried filling out the demand avoidance questionnaire on the PDA society’s website, that might help show whether you’re more likely to be PDA or not. I do know that ASD people are less likely to show/have fantasy, although many still can and do. It’s quite common for autistic people to have a specific interest like micheal jackson and wanting to act and dress up like that is something an autistic person would do. It can get confusing because PDA is an autism sub-type so PDAers tend to have many of the traits that autistic people have but some traits are slightly different. If you are on facebook perhaps you could join the adult PDA group and see if the people there are similar to yourself? There is also a specilist who diagnoses PDA who would be able to spot if you are PDA or not, however it is expensive so may not be an option for everyone. You could also try using PDA strategies to manage any difficulties you have and see if they help, I wrote a post on Adult Coping Strategies which might be worth a look. I hope you do manage to figure out which you are and can put your mind to rest. Good luck.

  3. Thank you very much so many usefull ways for me to try my way thrue .. I realy do figth with all simple stuff like getting up , taking a shower and so on. I can really deepley reconize a lot from your blog. you mention an important point ” if I always have bin demand avoidence or it is something i have develop “? I think it might be something i have developed. Many of the issues you mention above such as anxiety , sensory issues, executive funtcioning all of them like big time and it have just gone wilder for every time iยดve failed, and by never been enuoght no matter how much effort put in, just not enough to be me and succeed where i have wanted or needed to be fulfield in life and to my potential or even the few times i have succesed in implemnting what ever i started on og wished to succed at felt devastating ad very draining afterwards not to forget impossible repeatable . so gradually i began to lose confidense in my self , my brain and body had like let me down and the other way around . I really wished deeply to belong like myself whole self and rewarding with full potential and thrive , but that did not go the way i wished it would ,when i was young i thougth i was intelligent , and that gave me courage and meaning something to figth to keep and develop beyond life that was mine and made me happy indside out but ind 2.3. grade i went from the top to the bottom educationally , i could no longer compensate for my shortcomings , and it did not help at all in my better understanding of the inner or outer world. I grew more and more fearfull ( i am born fearfull) in living and in search of finding myself by running from myself not very clever i know. So bad experiences i have had a lot of them , my fear is not without real reasons. my fearfullness is more because of my strategic disturbed mind even though i live with a I big system demanding brain. Because of all of my shortcomings and really pushed my self to bottom with my wrongly self guided demands and all the times i have been inadequacy without realizing why exactly and how to learn from this , not before i reached the bottom full of incorrectly and defective experiances really depressed and lost . Then I became angry with my self and on the world. Hm perhaps i have developed demand avoidence because i could not find a rewarding box that i fit in by being me , while not identifying who i was in the first place only just having the experience of the all the roles i had misunderstood and failed to be , because it was wrong and not appropriate to live me at all. Such as being a mother dont get me wrong I love my children and only stuck in life because i am trying to give them a better life and be the loving and understanding mother they like every other child deserve to have by their side , but children are always demanding and it makes me wrong , shortcoming and further fearefull all over again every single day and i am so angry and shamed feeling that way and experience over again how much i hate my endless submisson to succed even like their mother in showing them the right way to their joy in life and etc. Its like a retraumatization in being me never enough locked in i really would like to improve as a human , but i dont know how to succed , i only know how not to do .. I apologize for all my endles apologies it is very pitiful and stupid. I will try looking at the other post on adult coping and filling out the PDA questionnaire . Thank you for your time sorry for all my complaining being me ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. It sounds like you’ve tried so hard all your life but haven’t quite met the expectations placed on yourself, that must have been hard. It’s okay not to be brilliant at things, I hope you are able to find some peace and are able to accept yourself for who you are and find a place to belong. Thank you for your message, it can’t have been easy to write.

  4. Thank you for sharing, what you wrote resonates deeply with me, and feels very familiar. I’m still exploring PDA, having come across it a couple of years ago. A friend mentioned that her child was diagnosed and as she described PDA I started ticking boxes for myself and two of my dearest friends (young people). One is very much an imaginative person who spends a lot of time role playing, just as I was as a child. I have much to learn about PDA still and am glad to have found your blog.

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