How Can It Feel to Have PDA? 

The quotes below are from a young person age 17, who has a diagnosis of PDA 

I am trying really hard to come in to school and I would really like to do better but I find it really difficult. It isn’t school that is the problem. I want to do well and I don’t want to let people down. I also want to get qualifications and move on with my life.

The way I feel is that I have my little bubble where everything is OK. In there, everything is calm and settled and under control. And then through a door there is a big black pit where I throw in everything difficult that happens. And over time the pit fills up with things. When the pit is full I can’t throw anything else in there and I can’t function until I have time on my own to think things through. This can take days or weeks. It can take months for the pit to fill up but once it is full it is full.

When people tell me that I have to come in to school, or that I will lose funding if I don’t come to school, this is something that fills up my pit and makes it hard for me to move forwards. I know all these things and don’t need to be reminded of them every day. That doesn’t help me; it just fills up my pit even more.

When I do come in to school I want to work but once something happens to throw me off it is like a switch is flipped and I just want to go home. This could be a student coming into my room or an unexpected change. Once I feel like this I can’t get my mind back on to work and I just get focused on wanting to go home.

I am not sure why I feel like this. I think part of it is from when I was in a class with very noisy unpredictable students. Another part is that I have been out of school for so long that school and learning seems like a ladder in front of me stretching up into infinity. I can’t see the end of the ladder and I am scared of what will happen if I try to climb up and end up falling off and being left back where I started.

In addition to all this, my main problem is sleeping. When I was coming to school in the autumn term I was sleeping better. I don’t think this was because of the work experience because it started before I began the work experience. I was able to get to sleep and then I would wake up at 6 in the morning feeling OK. It was like my brain just wanted to give me a taste of what it is like to be normal and then just take it away again. When my sleep is bad I just cannot sleep until 4, 5, 6 or 7 in the morning. If I haven’t slept then it is impossible for me to focus, make progress and overcome my anxiety.

Things would be easier for me if I could just take the time I need to process things when I am not feeling good. I understand that the world doesn’t work like that and I am trying to do better. I would really like to make progress and get qualifications and I appreciate that people are there to help me. 


Further reading and information about PDA

If you are concerned that your child may have PDA: Please view our 'Does My Child Have PDA'? section of our website.

Adults with PDA: There is very little research that looks into the adult presentation of ASD with a profile of PDA. Therefore, much of the information below is based on our understanding and knowledge of children with PDA. For further information about how this presentation of ASD can manifest during the adult years please view adult life and our adult case studies.

Further information about PDA can be found in the following areas of our website.

The National Autistic Society also provide an increasing amount of information about PDA.

Please note that the PDA Society are not making any recommendations nor is responsible for the content of sites and links that are external to the PDA Society.

Please contact us if you discover any broken links.