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informing teachers about PDA
  • Lixina
    Posts: 289
    I'd like some advice about how (or whether) to talk to teachers about PDA.

    I'm in my second year of university, registered with disability student services (I get notetaking and some exam accomodations) and my DSS advisor has been bugging me to write a 'letter to professor' - basically, a form letter explaining my disability to them. They have a sample letter for Asperger Syndrome that I can edit.

    The problem is, I'm not sure how to explain demand avoidance to them, in some way that won't result in me being flagged immediately as a troublemaker.

    I've gotten a lot better at handling control, to the point where I can usually get along with authority figures as long as they seem willing to be flexible. And I don't have a full blown meltdown with anyone outside the family, though sometimes I'm way too blunt with my unflattering opinions of them (eg 'I don't think you're a very good teacher').

    Should I just mention my more standardly autistic difficulties (talking too much in class, poor social understanding, overload, etc) even though that will leave them unprepared for some of my needs? Or can I explain PDA in a way that won't make me sound like just a defiant, troublemaking student? Or should I just be blunt in my LTP, in the hopes that I'll weed out the bad teachers right away?
  • Moose
    Posts: 1,843
    Hi Lixina,

    I reckon this is a tough one to call! 'Pathological Demand Avoidance' despite being clinically accurate conjures up many misconceptions. I often start to explain my sons difficulties by opening with the fact that he has a PDD similar to ASD, but that it manifests as a phobic anxiety disorder. I find this helps me to expand on the underpinning anxiety and phobic level of behaviour before having to explain how stresses/demands are responsible for much of the anxiety.
    I am sure any lecturer who is willing to understand, will have no difficulty with the concept that 'demands' cover a huge range of possibilities. If they are less than willing to take this on board, at least you will know where you stand and 'can weed them out'.

    Generally I have been surprised by how many people are willing to try to understand, if I am prepared to take the time try to explain. There are those who do not wish to know and keep a closed mind, but these are the exception rather than the rule. Sadly it is often those who have either some teaching experience or health knowledge that are the most resistant.

    I think, on balance, I would provide accurate information to give a full picture. Failure or unwillingness to understand would then be their responsibility, not yours. With limited information they cannot come close to understanding.

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