A-Z of Demands

Over on my Facebook page I’m starting a series called A-Z of Demands. Each day I’ll post a different letter of the alphabet, highlighting an everyday demand which, in my experience with my daughter, can trigger extreme demand avoidance and a brief description of my understanding of why. I’ll use the hashtag #AtoZofDemands and put them in this album so they can all easily be seen and shared.

For those of you who don’t use Facebook, I’ll also upload each day’s demand to a dedicated page on the blog called A-Z of Demands (there won’t be notifications sent to you when I do, so remember to visit the page regularly if you want to follow along).

I’m also working on an A-Z of PDA series and have a few other ideas around this theme which I’m planning to do in the future too.

Here’s the first one to get things started – A is for Agreements

A-Z of Demands - A

More information about PDA and advice on how to best support an individual with PDA is available on The PDA Society website:
> Families: https://www.pdasociety.org.uk/families/strategies
> Teachers: https://www.pdasociety.org.uk/education/teachers-guide
> Practitioners: https://www.pdasociety.org.uk/pro…/awareness-matters-booklet

 

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A note on the fear (or intolerance) of uncertainty

My beautiful girl is so stressed by the fear of uncertainty at the moment. Demand avoidance is one thing, one very difficult and challenging thing, but this is something else all together. I cannot reduce life’s uncertainties like I can reduce demands and no amount of distractions will take her mind off the uncertainty she is feeling.

She ordered a toy with some Christmas money from the internet. It’s a very special toy which she felt a strong attachment to from the moment she saw it on YouTube. We found one and ordered it but then the uncertainty began – when would it arrive? It didn’t help that this particular toy had a longer than usual wait time (7-10 days). This in itself caused a great deal of anxiety but it was the only option we had for buying this particular toy. It actually took 6 days to arrive in the end but for the whole of that time she wondered and worried about when it would arrive. Would it definitely come of the 7th day? What time of day would it arrive? Would it be there when she woke up in the morning or could it come in the evening? Would it arrive at all or get lost? What if we were out when the postman delivered it? So much uncertainty.

She didn’t sleep well for the 6 days either. She’d struggle even more than usual to fall asleep from the anticipation of whether tomorrow would be THE day (despite me reminding her it hadn’t been 7 days yet). Then she’d wake up early, hoping it was the day it would come. She even woke up one night having dreamed it had been delivered. She talked about what I should do with it if it arrived while she was asleep and then reminded me over and over. Every knock at the door had her jumping up, thinking it would be the toy and the disappointment was difficult for her to cope with when it wasn’t.

All of the uncertainty increased her anxiety through the roof and as a consequence all of her other difficulties were heightened for the 6 days. Demand avoidance, emotional dysregulation, mood swings, communication were all negatively affected.

The toy arrived yesterday and she was thrilled. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough to reduce her anxiety though and it was the most explosive day so far. I had hoped today would be different and she’d be able to start recovering from the effects of the uncertainty but it now seems she is constantly worried about this toy getting lost or stolen. I have of course reassured her that neither will happen because our house is secure and we’ll take good care not to lose it when we go out but she’s uncertain about this and keeps asking if it will be safe.

I just have to keep reassuring her and wait for her to come to the conclusion herself because in the past that is the only way she has settled over such uncertainties (becoming certain about something in her own mind) and be patient and loving with whatever comes while she gets there.

There has been interesting research by Newcastle University which concluded that intolerance of uncertainty could be the root cause of PDA anxiety and I think this could well be the case. Little Miss M needs to feel absolute certainty as well as control. I wrote A note on the need for control and certainty last year and it was helpful to read it back again this week x