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  • Writer's pictureKat Lord

More to Organising for Pathological Demand Avoidance

Updated: Mar 28, 2022

Throughout my book, I talk about organising with your child in mind and making it work for your family. All families have different needs and for children with Pathological Demand Avoidance- a profile on the autistic spectrum, where children avoid everyday demands, enabling and effectively structuring their environment can help. More to Organising is a global approach, it’s not just a way to sort through rooms, but it also supports parents by reframing daily domestic routines.

Effective Strategies That Benefit All Children:

  • Reduce uncertainty- having a decluttered and organised space can support your child as they know where everything is, as well as reducing levels of uncertainty in their routine.

  • Using ‘Routine’ cards so they (and you) know what is happening and what is coming next, can help to reduce the anxiety. Using’ Now and Next’ cards is an even better way to lessen overwhelm

  • Avoid Sensory overload- by decluttering and creating a calm space is an easy way to minimise potential issues and this includes auditing lighting and other sources of irritating noise.

  • Minimise rules- Too many rules is like too much clutter. Keep them short, clear and simple.

  • Boundaries- While children with PDA do find the demands of everyday life difficult, some are non- negotiable like health and safety. Be systematic in auditing your home, garden and transport to school in order to raise your awareness of potential areas of concern.

  • Plan B- Having a clear schedule that you stick to can also reduce the stress but sometimes that is not possible. Having a plan B that you share will mean there is less uncertainty if changes need to be made.

  • Time- Sometimes activities can take longer than anticipated, so planning in extra time can make for a calmer day.

  • Quiet Area- when a child with Pathological Demand Avoidance feels panicked, their behaviours can look like aggression or naughtiness. Have a conversation with them about where they feel safe and what makes them feel safe. Share examples of quiet/safe places. Have this conversation at a calm time and involve the child with organising an area that they know they can go to as feeling safe is important.

  • Declutter your language- using certain phrases such as “you must”, “you need”, “you have to” can increase their levels of non-compliance so be mindful of your language and practise changing the phrases to be less demanding.

  • Giving time cues for before transitions are going to occur can take away uncertainty and support their routine. These time cues can be visual , and clearly understood and used uniformly by all adults interacting with the child.

Consider attending an on-line training with us that provides a 90 minute presentation, free handbook and access to the purchase of a PDA storybook.

Written by Kathryn Lord MA (ED) in collaboration with Mary Mountstephen MA (SEN) MA (RES)

For more help or support on Decluttering and Organising rooms and routines with your child in mind head to

Contact Mary Mountstephen:

Twitter- mary_mountstephen

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