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In this episode of the Peaceful Parenting Podcast, guest expert Casey Ehrlich from At Peace Parents joins me to discuss Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). 

She provides an in-depth understanding of PDA, a profile of autism that is characterized by a consistent survival drive for autonomy and equality, and shares how it can affect everything from an individual’s eating and sleeping habits to maintaining safety. 

Casey’s approach centers on accommodating rather than activating the individual’s nervous system. For parents raising PDA children, she shares an effective cost-benefit decision making framework that offers radical acceptance of the situation. She also touches on the hard choices parents sometimes need to make, including separating siblings for safety and allocating resources for help.

We cover:

  • 5:10 Definition of Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)
  • 7:32 How she found out that her son was PDA
  • 13:44 5 Characteristics of PDA
  • 25:51 Is Masking a form of Freeze
  • 26:11 Do you talk about FON with PDA
  • 29:59 How common is PDA
  • 31:05 Strategies for parents
  • 40:35 What do you do if one sibling is PDA and one is not?
  • 45:25 How PDA adults manage this in terms of their relationships
  • 52:12 Advice to her younger parent self

Casey Ehrlich, Ph.D. (she/her) is a social scientist, parent coach and educator, the CEO and founder of At Peace Parents, and a leader of the first peer-reviewed studies of PDA in the United States.  Casey brings 15 years of work experience and expertise in social science methodology to help parents and therapists understand how to connect with and accommodate PDA Autistic children. She specializes in teaching parents and therapists practical skills in the home or clinical setting to accommodate neuroception-driven demand avoidance and nervous system differences through creative techniques. Her original research as a social scientist was conducted on post-conflict reconciliation, social capital, trust, and trauma in Colombia, South America – themes she brings to her work with parents, therapists, and teachers. She has served more than 1,000 families raising Autistic, PDA Autistic, ADHD and traumatized children since 2020 and is also raising a PDA autistic son.

      Episode #139: Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) with Casey Ehrlich

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