10 reasons why you should and shouldn’t ask PDAers to do something

There are many reasons behind asking someone to do something, often need and delegation of duties are main factors, but when it comes to asking someone who has unique difficulties and a difference of neurology, it can be difficult to figure out the pros and cons. Demand avoidance means no matter what you ask, it is going to be difficult, but that doesn’ mean we shouldn’t ever be asked for fear of triggering avoidance. So what are the pros and cons exactly? Well, I’ve laid out 10 of them to help you figure it out. I’ve kept the pros till last because I like to end on a positive.

5 reasons why you shouldn’t ask a PDAer to do something:

  1. Demand avoidance – asking a PDAer to do something, anything, will trigger demand avoidance. This leads to stress and anxiety amongst other things, and just generally makes our lives that little bit harder. Of course, you might not immediately see our avoidance because…
  2. We are often people pleasers – some of us have the tenancy to immediately agree to anything because we hate upsetting and disappointing others. We then spend ages worrying about the task and trying to find ways of getting out of it without disappointing anyone.
  3. We need our spoons – the spoon theory equates spoons to amounts of energy. All of us start every day with a certain amount of energy which gets used up throughout the day. For PDAers, we start everyday with less spoons than the typical person, we spend far, far more spoons on every task than the average person, tasks that might not use any spoons for typical people do use up spoons for us, and we are less able to replenish spoons during the day when other people do. So asking us to do something might use up our precious supply, leaving us spoonless for other, more important tasks.
  4. It’s not just ‘one’ task – while for most people, a task is usually just the one task, the actual activity. For people like PDAers, ‘one’ task actually involves lots of little tasks, some of which the average person doesnt even have. Putting out the rubbish for example, for most people this is one task, putting the rubbish in the bin outside, for some this might even be three tasks, picking up the rubbish, carrying it outside and putting it in the bin. For PDAers, this ‘one’ task can add up to a number of smaller tasks, including thinking about what the task entails, battling with demand avoidance to get started, putting on shoes, finding the keys to unlock the door to get outside, unlocking the door, finding the bin, picking up the bag, carrying the bag outside, finding the bin, opening the bin lid, putting the bag in, remembering to close the bin lid, going back inside, taking our shoes off, remembering to wash our hands, telling the person who asked us to do the task that we’ve finished. And that’s all without any added on bits like neighbours trying to engage us when out or having to put a new bin bag in the bin inside. Most people don’t think about all these little steps, they do it all automatically without any problems, but for PDAers, each and every step is an individual demand where avoidance can creep in at any point.whate
  5. Asking is a choice – if it’s a task that needs to be done then asking is the wrong thing to do. Asking implies that there’s a choice to not do it, and PDAers are just as likely to refuse as accept. If you then complain or try to force the issue then you will be setting yourself up for a fight. Only ask a PDAer to do something if you are fully willing to accept their ‘no’, otherwise, find a different way of communicating your need for the task to be done. And don’t do what I saw someone on Facebook do recently, and pretend that giving the choice of doing the task or accepting a punishment is an actual choice, it’s not, it’s just a very polite way of threatening someone.

5 reasons why you should ask a PDAer to do something:

  1. It’s presuming competance in our abilities – asking us to do something shows that you believe we are capable of doing the task. It’s empowering when others believe in us and will make us want to succeed that bit more.
  2. It’s respectful – offering the choice to do a task rather than just telling us to do it shows you respect us as people. It shows that you think we are capable of choosing and shows you care about whether we want to do something or not. And if you respect our choice if we refuse then that shows you care even more and that you value our need for autonomy and freedom.
  3. We have a unique way of viewing the world – whatever the task is that you are offering, I’m sure us PDAers will show you a unique spin on. We might do the task a different way and we might throw up unique results from doing so. This different way of being can often lead to new and innvative ideas, or we might just show you a quicker way of doing the same task. Which leads us to…
  4. PDAers are problem solvers – when you ask for our help with something or just want us to complete a mundane task, it might be worth paying attention to how we do it, you may find we have ways of solving problems or finding shortcuts that can help make future tasks that much faster and easier. And if you need a great solution to a problem then asking for a PDAers insight can often help you find the answer you are looking for.
  5. We WANT to do things – and this is probably the most important reason of all. We want to do tasks, we want to be challenged, we want to be successful and active. Asking us to do things helps us find things to do, it can give us a purpose or means we try something new. But most of all, we just want to be included, just like everyone else.

If you are struggling to find a middle ground between avoiding the cons while achieving the pros, it always helps to say things like “you don’t have to do this if you don’ want to”, “I just wondered if you might like to…”, “I understand if you say ‘no’, that’ perfectly fine”, “I understand if you can’t right now” and “it’s up to you, no pressure”.

Wording is everything.

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14 thoughts on “10 reasons why you should and shouldn’t ask PDAers to do something”

  1. Reblogged this on Fire Bright Star Soul and commented:
    “Asking is a choice – if it’s a task that needs to be done then asking is the wrong thing to do. Asking implies that there’s a choice to not do it, and PDAers are just as likely to refuse as accept. If you then complain or try to force the issue then you will be setting yourself up for a fight. Only ask a PDAer to do something if you are fully willing to accept their ‘no’, otherwise, find a different way of communicating your need for the task to be done. And don’t do what I saw someone on Facebook do recently, and pretend that giving the choice of doing the task or accepting a punishment is an actual choice, it’s not, it’s just a very polite way of threatening someone.”

    That last line tho… “Wording is everything.”

    Word.

  2. I have found wording is everything when I am asking my daughter (on the autism spectrum) to do something. Before I can even get the request out, she has already said, “no.” Thank you for these – “you don’t have to do this if you don’ want to”, “I just wondered if you might like to…”, “I understand if you say ‘no’, that’ perfectly fine”, “I understand if you can’t right now” and “it’s up to you, no pressure”. I use a couple of these already, but I will be using them all now- and I think she will appreciate me asking in this way!

  3. Brilliant blog post. I’ve sent the link to my husband as it sums up in a nutshell a million and six conversations I’ve had with him for forty plus years. I came across PDA last year for the first time. Thank you.

  4. Reblogged this on HomeCrazzyHome and commented:
    I am preempting today’s blog from an important message. The most important kind of all…from someone who knows. A true EXPERT. Next to PanKwake one whose opinion I value highly. This is good stuff, folks!

    EXCELLENT blog from a PDA adult about how Pathological Demand Avoidance feels from the inside. These are the people we parents need to be listening to.

    Not ‘experts’ for whom our #LittleHumans are nothing more than monkeys in cages to be studied so that they can advance their careers and become famous…write a book or get a huge grant. While there are a few good ones, don’t be fooled even those get caught up in the research SYSTEM.

    #ActuallyAutistics and #ProudlyPDA like Riko Ryuki have the truth that we #parents need. Riko especially as she is a double expert: PDAer herself and #mother of #HappilyAutistic #LittleHumans.

  5. I always gain so much from reading your posts. I wish we could get some professionals reading and learning from you!

  6. How does one get a PDAer to do something that must be done? Did I miss that part of the article? I read about deciding if it’s ok to have the PDAer say no. Sometimes in life, there are things that must be done, then what?

    1. That depends a lot on what it is that must be done. I’m a firm believer in treating kids with the same respect and autonomy we treat adults, thus, if something needs to be done then we approach it in the same way we would if we needed an adult to do something but keeping in mind that children have less ability to problem solve and manage their emotional responses as adults. Ross Green’s collaborative problem solving approach can be helpful here.

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