Highly Sensitive Neuroception May Be At The Heart of PDA

In this article I hope to describe how Dr Stephen Porges’ polyvagal theory has helped us, as parents, to develop greater insight into our son’s experience when he is faced with everyday ‘demands’.  This will provide a context for my hypothesis that:

Highly sensitive neuroception may be at the heart of PDA.

PDA is currently categorised as a ‘profile of autism’.  There is significant variance in recognition throughout the UK and in the wording used by different clinicians.  Some clinicians will name ASD with Extreme Demand Avoidance, others refer to Pathological Demand Avoidance – profile of autism, whilst some remain true to Elizabeth Newson’s original wording and retain the word ‘syndrome’ at the end of PDA.  The following links contain clarity in respect of the proposed diagnostic features:

When we discovered that our son is Autistic, I started researching more widely about ‘autism’.  Being bombarded with the pathology paradigm everywhere we looked was not serving us well.

It became apparent to me very early on though, that understanding the nervous system was likely to be fundamental to understanding our son’s responses to demand stimuli. 

In 2017 a specialist, independent OT also helped us to think about the role of the nervous system in relation to William’s gross motor challenges and sensory modulation difficulties.  Since then, my curiosity has led me to read some really interesting research and to consider this, more specifically, in relation to PDA.

“Demands” in the context of PDA can mean anything from showering, getting dressed, using a pencil, making a choice, to going somewhere or doing something of interest.  We see in William that even the most innocuous of demands, direct and indirect can be challenging.

As apparent as William’s resistance to everyday demands is, it is even more evident that he is triggered into “survival” mode whenever the environmental conditions challenge his highly sensitive nervous system, and whenever our, or other people’s responses to him deviate from being entirely calm and demand free.  All of this is further impacted by his sensory modulation difficulties and auditory hyper-sensitivity.

Prior to being diagnosed as Autistic, at 2 years old, William’s consultant neurologist diagnosed congenital central hypotonia and hypermobility, with some stereotypies.  When the neurologist discussed William’s diagnoses with us he explained that “central” referred to the brain and that in some children like William, their MRIs showed delayed myelination. 

With this in mind, I became increasingly curious about how his nervous system might be involved in his highly sensitive and frequently fearful responses to objectively, non threatening stimuli, such as everyday demands.  These fearful responses also include more predictably challenging stimuli such as; deep laughs, thunder and certain tones of voice.  Dr Porges refers to these as “lower pitch sounds” which the sensitive nervous system is more likely to be biased towards “in order to detect the movements of a predator” (Porges, 2017).

Some of the behavioural responses associated with the PDA profile of Autism, are considered in the context of “challenging behaviour”.  In many settings the child themselves, the parents, or both are blamed. However, what is observable is only a small part of the picture and much needed clarity and understanding can be found in the literature on neuroception.

Neuroception is how our neural circuits distinguish whether situations or people are safe, dangerous, or life threatening.  If our neural circuits perceive a threat; the principal human defence strategies are triggered. (Porges, 2004)

The term neuroception and its history of origin provides a fascinating story that struck me as being directly relevant to PDA.  Dr Stephen Porges, who coined the term neuroception, writes about his own personal experience of it’s powerful impact when his body’s response to an MRI was incompatible with his cognitive desire to experience one.  As a scientist and academic, he was so interested to experience the process of an MRI scan, yet he became unable to do so because his neuroception triggered the flight response.

“I wanted to have the MRI.  I wasn’t scared. It wasn’t dangerous.  But something happened to my body when I entered the MRI. There were certain cues that my nervous system was detecting, and those cues triggered a defensiveness – wanting me to mobilize, to get out of there.” (Porges, 2017)

Neuroception evaluates risk in the environment without awareness. Perception is a conscious and aware process of evaluating or detecting risk. The difference between the two is crucial to understand, as it links directly to the question of intentionality and behavioural control.

“When we encounter challenging behaviours in a child, the first question to ask is: Is the behaviours etiology top down or bottom up? I came to understand the importance of  considering the child’s reflexive responses to perceived threat … as I was fortunate enough to learn about Dr Porges’ work” (Delahooke, M. 2019)

Because neuroception is a neural, rather than cognitive process; when the nervous system detects threats, it does so unconsciously; “triggering the body to engage defensively” (Porges, 2017). This means that when triggered to mobilize (flight or fight) or immobilize (freeze or flop), the body is not choosing to react as it does, rather it is compelled to do so for it’s very survival.  This ‘override’ occurs even if the escaped or avoided stimuli or event, is something that the person wants to do.

Understanding this neural process for the first time was an important light bulb moment for me.  Porges’ theory inadvertently, further explains the “Can’t – Help – Wont” aspect of PDA; a phrase coined by Jane Sherwin (2015).

It explains the neural process which drives a person to avoid or escape threatening stimuli, which in the case of PDA is everyday demands.  Porges explains how even when the desire to do something is present, the ability to do so can be powerfully overthrown by the process of neuroception.  So in the case of an individual with PDA, we can begin to conceptualize how, when the nervous system detects threat and danger within ‘demands’, that a survival response is triggered, facilitating a form of escape or avoidance. This may explain both the neural process and the lack of behavioural control in the “can’t help won’t” explanation, or perhaps more accurately; “can’t help can’t.”

For some with the PDA ‘profile of autism’, perceived danger, or a neuroception of threat, is almost constant in environments where everyday demands are all around, and complex social and sensory information is overwhelming.

Flight, fight and freeze are more widely known defence strategies.  There is a further defence strategy that is less well documented though, known as fawn.  The term fawn was first introduced by Pete Walker. Understanding why the fawn response is triggered and how it presents could help us to understand why some of our children’s needs remain unrecognised and unsupported for detrimental periods of time.

I will explore a brief introduction to the responses we might see showing up:

1. The survival response Flight is triggered when a person responds to a perceived threat with an intense urge to flee.  This flight can be literal; running away, or it can be more subtle and symbolic.  An example of the latter would be when the person suddenly absorbs themselves in an activity that they are passionate about; in order to feel distanced from the perceived threat.

2. The survival response Fight is triggered when a person responds aggressively to a stimuli that is frightening to them.  This survival response overrides the individual’s connection with others and the fight responses are triggered unconsciously and unintentionally. 

Once the nervous system has calmed, “feelings of shame and regret are likely to be profound, regardless of the person’s ability to verbalize these feelings” (Newbold, 2014).

The survival response Freeze is triggered when the person’s fear response to a perceived threat, takes them into a shutdown state.  This can include being unable to respond to those around you, “staring” at the iPad or TV or into space in what looks like a daydream state.  It can also include falling asleep outside of normal routine, something William does when he has been overloaded with sensory, social and everyday demands.  The easily overlooked and misunderstood freeze responses, which are characteristic of a person who is feeling traumatised and overloaded, can render a child’s difficulties invisible, especially in the busy context of school.  

The freeze response can also be understood as the internal process known as dissociation.  Dissociation becomes necessary in order to escape and protect the self from perceived danger.  Freeze is also referred to by clinicians as hypervigilance (being on guard, watchful, alert)… associated with fear  (Bracha, 2004).

4. Fawning (Walker, 2013) is largely unrecognised. This survival response occurs as a result of prolonged high stress situations.  When the fawn response is triggered, we may observe an uncharacteristic mode of people pleasing, or deferring to the needs and wishes of others, whilst surrendering one’s own.  Fawn is a survival response that can be triggered when a person feels at risk from the people or environment they are in.  (Bal, 2009)  For example, if I am overwhelmed by something in the environment, or by the people around me my neuroception may trigger the fawn response.  This can be thought of as compliance in order to avoid conflict (Bal, 2009). 

Uncertainty and a lack of being able to predict whether a person or group of people may become angry if we fail to please them, is something we all weigh up.  But for a person who is experiencing a neuroception of danger, aggravated by poorly developed skills in reading facial expressions, “prosody of voice” (Porges, 2017) and the many complex nuances involved in social interactions; the fawn response may be triggered to protect the self from the perceived harm of an unknown response.

5. Flop (collapse) also referred to as Faint is part of our shutdown response.  This  immobilization is not a chosen response, rather it is a reflexive one, triggered to safeguard us. 

Our survival responses and the very different ways in which they present, mean that those with highly sensitive neuroception or as Porges defines it; “faulty neuroception”, may present very differently in different contexts and with different people. 

I have replaced Porges’ term “faulty” with “highly sensitive” as I believe that this is about a different, rather than faulty neural process.  We can appreciate and be grateful for the neuroscience, without subscribing to a medical model, using terms such as ‘faulty’ or ‘disordered’.  We can replace these with more respectful and accepting references to difference, and still benefit from the theory’s applications.   Adapting the narrative does not take away from understanding the impact of having highly sensitive neuroception.   I feel it is possible and incredibly important to validate the difficulties that arise when we have a different experience of the world, without describing something inside of the person as faulty or disordered.

More on Fawning:
The fawn response is much less likely to be triggered in an environment where the person feels safe; with a person who is well known to them.  If as part of a trusting relationship, kind and gentle responses are the norm, then that person is established as predictable. 

“Our nervous systems like predictable” (Porges, 2017) predictable is safe.  In safe relationships the Fawn response is much less likely to be triggered. In less well known relationships or contexts such as school or hospital, the “Fawn” response may more likely to be triggered to avoid conflict and to maintain feelings of safety until back in the refuge of home.  When a neuroception of threat is detected at home around adults who feel safe; one of our other survival responses are more likely to be triggered. 

In relation to PDA, this may translate as demands being followed for some of the time, for some people, in more difficult to predict contexts.  When the PDAer follows some demands for some people, some of the time, it can be very confusing to others around them.  These changeable responses are actually very adaptive though and do make sense when considered within the context of a neuroception of threat. 

I consider insights into fawning, as sitting supportively alongside the literature on masking.

PDA is complex and presents in nuanced ways, many of which are often confusing to the outsider.  When the autonomic nervous system is triggered as a result of a neuroception of threat, we see “first-line defence strategies” that are social in nature.   These are also being shaped by sympathetic nervous system activation and it is important to consider how this may impact communication and perceived sociability. 

Jane Sherwin describes examples of these responses:

“Ignoring is a familiar first line of defence to avoid immediate compliance.  Or she may simply need more time to process the request to ‘comply’, once she feels that the initial demand has been diluted by time. Switching to a different topic in order to distract from my initial request is also a common strategy, or she may promise ‘when I’ve finished this’, or offer a list of imaginary reasons why not” (Sherwin, 2015).

Whilst less recognisably so, these examples are shaped by “flight” energy.  If this stage of response is not working for the child, their state may shift, becoming more characteristic of “fight”. 

As I see William become more activated, I tune in to my body, to help me respond more calmly.  I seek to provide authentic cues of safety and to embody conditions that support him to return to a neuroception of safety.

When we become polyvagal informed, we can begin to feel into the kinds of conditions those with highly sensitive neuroception need, in order to return to their safe and social state.  Understanding Polyvagal Theory may help to deepen our understanding of PDA, it certainly has for us, for which I am so thankful to Dr Porges. 

Further exciting and pioneering insights can be found by looking at the work of Raelene Dundon, a Clinical Psychologist who looks at PDA through a trauma informed lens.  

“I am not saying that PDA is caused by trauma – I believe the current view that PDA is a profile of behaviour that presents as part of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, what I am saying is that the reaction an individual has to a demand is similar to a trauma response.” (Dundon, 2018)

I see in William, in his most extreme responses to demands, resonance of a trauma response.  I understand these responses as protective adaptations, automatic responses arising in survive of survival.  When the body is in a defensive state, when the nervous system is activated, a consistently compassionate, attuned, calm and gentle approach is required to support the person back to safety. 

“When neuroception tells us that an environment is safe and that the people in this environment are trustworthy, our mechanisms of defence are disenabled. We can then behave in ways that encourage social engagement and positive attachment.” (Porges, 2014)

Doing this is never easy, we still struggle at times.  But what we have found is that as our insight has increased and as we continue to do our own work, our capacity has too. 

Polyvagal Theory and a deeper understanding of neuroception, through a neurodivergent lens, has helped us to consider in more detail; the conditions we need to ensure William has both inside and beyond the home environment.   In particular, the essential and non negotiable conditions he needs in his individualised education plan.

“We need to structure settings to remove sensory cues that trigger a neuroception of danger and life threat. The removal of low frequency sounds would be a good start [as well as] creating “safe zones” that trigger through neuroception a physiological state of safety” (Porges, 2017)

Understanding and applying the principles of Porges’ work to educational and clinical settings, could help offer our children the crucial support and accommodations they need.  There are exciting, empowering and hopeful messages within Porges’ work and it has great utility in terms of understanding the requisite conditions required for PDA individuals to feel safe enough to thrive.

I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the themes raised in this blog here, or over on the Facebook Page:

You can also find Part 2 to this article here:


Bal, R. (2019). “Fight Flight Freeze Fawn Responses And The Pitfalls Of Empathy” Resolving Trauma and PTSD.  Retrieved from 

Bracha, S. Williams, A. E. & Bracha, A. S.  (2004).  “Does ‘Fight or Flight’ Need Updating?”  Psychosomatics 45, No. 5

Delahooke, M.  (2019).  Beyond Behaviours: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioural Challenges.  PESI Publishing and Media.

Dundon, R.  (2018). “Supporting Children With PDA Using Play and Trauma Informed Practice”.  Retrieved from

Kozlowska, K. Walker, P. & Carrive, M.  (2015).  “Fear and the Defence Cascade: Clinical Implications and Management.” Harv Rev Psychiatry. 23, no. 4, 263–287.

Newbold, Y.  (2014).  The Special Parents Handbook.  Amity Books.

Newson, E. (1990).  “Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome: Mapping a New Entity Related to Autism?”  Inaugural lecture, University of Nottingham.

Porges, S. (2004). “Neuroception: A Subconscious System for Detecting Threats and Safety.” ZERO TO THREE 24, no. 5 19-24

Porges, S. (2017).  The Pocket Guide to The Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe. New York: W.W. Norton.

Sherwin, J. A.  (2015).  Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome: My Daughter Is Not Naughty. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Walker, P.  (2013).  Complex PTSD: From Surviving To Thriving.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

By Jessica Matthews

Writer, home educator and Autistic advocate, with specialisations in psychology, polyvagal theory, Autistic / neurodivergent wellbeing.
BACP Integrative therapist, Post Grad training in Clinical Psychology , BSC Psychology Hons degree.

37 replies on “Highly Sensitive Neuroception May Be At The Heart of PDA”

Very interesting.. my child only ever get freeze of fight. Mostly fight… she has no idea why this happens, restaurants are a huge trigger. I think uncertainty biggest trigger.
She says she doesn’t remember them.. she sounds and appears aggressive. And it is so important at this point of overload that soft voice and understanding are presented by those around. And yet what we mostly get are comments and grumpy voices from judgmental people. I wish brain disorders were more widely understood. Parent blaming in these already difficult moments is not helpful.
If they could make a program about this actually showing by MRI the brain diffences maybe this could lead to great understanding by the public and out kid could get the empathy their conditions deserve.

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Thank you for your feedback. It must be so scary for your daughter when she can’t remember her responses.
William doesn’t either. But I can see that he has an emotional memory and is emotionally drained and fatigued afterwards.
Soft voices, empathic responses and parental understanding when out in public is the only bit we can control isnt it. So unkind and unhelpful when people judge and comment.

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Thank you for writing this, your analysis makes a lot of sense to me. I have seen my son exhibit the “fawn” response a few times which has confused me, and also made me question whether my own approach is right as he’s responded with such uncharacteristic compliance to demanding strangers.

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Yes, I believe my daughter fawns at school and is less compliant at home. Although, I believe this can be true with most kids. They can keep it together at school and then crash at home or take out their stress on family members because they feel loved and safe with them. I’m finding that even with social stories, visuals, and calm requests our daughter is still very resistant. This article is so very helpful! I plan to share it with her therapists and school! I think we’re identifying these issues as anxiety, but it’s more PDA. We’ve tried natural approaches, OT, and other supports but we still can’t accomplish a few important self-care and health needs. We’re considering and SSRI. Can they be helpful with forms of PDA?

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Rebecca, I’m so pleased to hear that you found the article helpful. Great to hear that you’re sharing it too.
I’m afraid I can’t comment on the efficacy of medication for PDA, definitely one for the medics.
Keep going, sounds like you’re doing an amazing job trying different ways to support your daughter. Keep looking for how you can follow her lead and remind yourself that you’re doing a great job. 💛

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This really resonates with me and my husband. In fact I’ve never read anything that has come this close and accurate to describing my son. The explanation of fawn response really struck a chord, in times of transition, change or increased anxiety my son becomes overly apologetic to everyone about things you would not need to apologise for. He seeks approval and needs reassurance that you are not upset at him. It can be exhausting trying to navigate each day around his changing responses.

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That sounds like 100% like how my RSD, Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria shows. It’s incredibly common among people with ADHD and Autistics also have a prevalence for it. Always worried that someone might be upset at you. That said there is always so many things to look at and try and research.


Really interesting post. I’m fascinated by the neuroscience behind autism and PDA. The amygdala in PDA’ers must be larger and the inbuilt reactions or 5 Fs activated more often and more intensely. Il definitely be reading Porges book. Great work x

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Goodness, this has really struck a chord with me. My 15 year old was given many years ago, about 7, a diagnosis of PDD NOS, but for a while now, I’ve felt PDA is an accurate reading. I haven’t a clue if working with this will help as he has severe behavioural issues as well as trauma, leading me to think PTSD. This article helped me reach a deeper understanding and describes my son very accurately, including masking, mimicking (uncanny preciseness) and fawning – to full blown fight mode. I will definitely research more and encourage his mental health team to read this article. Thank you so much.

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Richard Woods thank you for taking so much time to respond to my article. Your particular way of considering the content of it, is both interesting and challenging. I welcome both and thank you for your feedback. Different opinions are never a bad thing. I’m sure many will be interested to read your response.

I’m not sure absolutes are available to any of us in the Autistic community (outside of what we know about our own internal experiences) regardless of our position or perspective, but it is always great to see so much reflection and exploration of these topics.


Thank you – an informative article that really helps me understand what is happening with my 18 yr old ASD daughter. She definitely jumps to the fawn in social situations – trying to please everyone to the detriment of herself. This has caused so many problems such as being taken advantage of re money, driving people everywhere and putting strangers needs ahead of her family and herself. Also found your discussion of every day demands illuminating.

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Paula, great to hear that the article has helped you to understand more about what might be happening for your daughter.
So hard when you can see her vulnerability leading her into risky situations.
I feel like we need more literature / social stories that are accessible for young people and young adults, to help them explore reciprocal friendships as well as how to recognise when a friendship is one way?
Receiving advice about subjects like this can be easier when it is less direct, so learning through (age appropriate and non patronizing) social stories can still be helpful and supportive.


Very interesting thanks. We’ve reached this understanding about our daughter (10) slowly over time (she’s not diagnosed and sensitivities are masked by very high learning potential). So great to have it set out in this very readable way. Particularly loved “fawn” being explained. We have had so much trouble getting her needs met because she goes into fawn response outside the home while we have full in fight or flight at home. And so resonated for me personally- absolutely was my own response to constant threat (real and perceived) as a child. We’ve developed a parenting style that is all about calm, quiet, low stimulation ( apart from the times when we lose our patience and make it spectacularly worse!). It’s really helpful to read this validating article when sometimes we face a lot of judgement for not challenging what looks like atrocious behaviour. Thanks!

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Alex, I’m so pleased that you found the article validating. It can feel so isolating when we take a different parenting path can’t it. Your calm, quiet and low stimulation approach sounds beautiful and very attuned.
And the losing your patience moments, we’ve all been there and we’ll probably go there numerous times again. But the crucial part is when we return to that established relational safety and connection. Our relationships remain intact when we nurture that trust, tune back in and explain our own emotional processes too (in a really child friendly way). I try to remind myself that when I apologise and acknowledge to my son that Mommy gets things wrong too, it is really growthful for him (and our relationship).


I’m a 74 yo Aspie, the son of an Aspie mother, brother to an Aspie sister and (adopted) NT brother, married for 52 years to an NT girl, father of five adult children (all Aspies), grandfather of 14 grandchildren (11 of whom are Aspies) and great-grandfather of one baby boy (10 months old).
As you can probably imagine, we’ve experienced most related conditions associated with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, including PDA — which has been something of a revelation in understanding many of us, some of us (me included) who have been misdiagnosed, confusingly, with Oppositional Defiance Disorder. We could never quite reconcile ODD with our actual behaviour, and having been misdiagnosed in 1995 with mild Bipolar Disorder and mild Bipolar Disorder — which sent me into severe depression trying to reconcile with my known behaviour, something I’d never experienced before.
After years of struggling to understand a diagnosis of ODD for one of our grandsons, now almost 11 yo, PDA fits him — and me — like a glove.
He had a traumatic early childhood, which he appeared to handle reasonably well, and I observed his fawning response to response to one particular adult and drew the conclusion he was protecting himself against possible violence — which he’d witness used against his mother, who had also shocked me with her own fawning response to a shop assistant at an airport gift store years earlier, when she was flying to spend a week with the family of a new beau and was in a state of intense stress after recently escaping a violent relationship with a drug-addicted partner.
Our grandson became prone to meltdowns during Grade Three at a new school. He would literally demolish his classroom and cause evacuation of his classmates. The new school is particularly well-resourced, with a permanent psychologist, two counsellors and a very responsive principal and two equally responsive vice principals.
He was put on shorter hours in the afternoons to reduce the cumulative stress and anxiety of each school day, and as that began to bear fruit in a dramatic reduction in meltdowns (usually in the afternoons, when he passed his stress threshold, but we noticed, when he stayed regularly with us, his resistance to going to school, particularly if his school refusal delayed departure long enough to make him late. (This was when he was diagnosed with ODD.)
His younger brother developed the same behaviour the following year — violent meltdowns and then school refusal. We wondered at first of this was simply copying his older brother’s behaviour, but he wasn’t at school with him at that time.
It turned out that he was being bullied by some older boys, out of range of the schools CCTV system. It was discovered when his mother arrived at the school for a meeting to discuss his behaviour and happened to come across the older boys in action with her younger son, who is very like me at the same age — more bravado and unwillingness to accept bullying than most kids our age.
Anyway, the unexpected — and very revealing — discovery of PDA helped to alter our understanding of our grandchildren’s behaviour, that of our some of our adult children and of my own.
I wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome until 2002, at 57 years of age. Within a week of the final, formal session I had realised that my youngest daughter, 13, and my mother, 80, were almost certainly on the Spectrum. As these diagnoses were formalised, we realised that the rest of our adult children were also on the Spectrum.
It made a huge difference in my relationship with my mother, which had always been strained because of her often harsh and inexplicable responses to my own choices.
By the time she passed away in 2013, our relationship had been transformed to the point where it was loving and close for that final decade of her life — a wonderful outcome.
I’ve only recently come across your writing, and it has been a very welcome addition and enhancement to our lives, with very clear and positive impact on three generations of our family.
Thank you for your insights. 😀

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Thank you so much for sharing with me. Your story has really moved me, especially your reconnection and loving resolution with your Mother before she passed away.

Thank you too for your wonderful feedback. It meant a great deal to me to hear that my writing has had a positive impact on you and your family.

Sending warmest wishes 💛


This is so interesting and eye opening. I have thought for a long time that my 8 year old has pda but she is the master masker. The fawning aspect is particularly interesting as I see this so much in her. I often wonder about trying for an assessment but feel that she’d mask / fawn which would render the assessment useless. So we continue with a low demand approach but I worry for her future. Thanks for this article which is both informative and thought provoking.

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This is an excellent description of the processes my diagnosed child and our family lives with; I have sent the link to our SENCO and behavioural specialist – thanks for your work. Please could you clarify the difference between Fright and Freeze. They seem interchangable terms with one perhaps a more obvious physical expression or subset of the other, and appearing (to me anyway) to be named the other way around…? Thanks

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This was such an interesting article, thank you so much. It gives a lot of food for thought and makes so much sense.
Are there additional strategies and therapies, in additional to creating a safe and trustworthy environment that can lower these high sensitivity levels of neuroception?
It is impossible and impractical to remove all demands, and like you say, the child may respond to one parent/person in household is a different way to the other, differing day by day, moment by moment.
And the threat to a specific ‘demand’ may be present one day and not the next.
As much as your article was such a lightbulb moment, I still find myself at a loss of how to really help reduce the volatility of highly sensitive neuroception, that is actually long lasting?
Thank you

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Thank you so much for writing this. I’m someone who possibly has this (looking into it), your post made me feel incredibly understood 🙂 Looking at my actions through those “five F’s” just blew my mind in the similarities, and the examples you gave were accurate as well.

The way you identified “choosing” vs “compelling” was very true to what I experience. Just giving an example, if there is nothing really happening, life is good and I feel happy to talk to anyone, I feel at peace. But today, I have a task I need to do. Today, footsteps outside my door put me on edge, everything sounds too loud, I can feel panic rising up and the feeling of being trapped closing in around me- even though I want to do the task. I need to do the task. It’s not a hard task. But what I want to do and how my body is compelled to respond are two completely different things.

Thanks for this again, this has given me a lot to think about.


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