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Intrinsic Motivation and PDA: A Week Full of Rich Narratives From Autistic PDA Adults

Kristy Forbes – Autism & Neurodiversity Support Specialist and Fan from Roarheart, provide so much insight in their amazing new podcasts @FightandFawn. I value the content of what they are sharing very much.

I wanted to take a moment to highlight one of the points they make about Education. They highlight the importance of providing our children with the space to find their own talents, gifts and strengths; by giving them the freedom to learn in their own way. They identify the central role of intrinsic motivation in children’s learning (and life) journeys and why this is effective, where imposed expectations and extrinsic motivation are not.

When I had finished listening, I reminded myself of the seven factors that can enhance intrinsic motivation. They are challenge, curiosity, control, fantasy, competition, cooperation and recognition. When reflecting on those seven factors in relation to PDA, I was struck by the fact that each word is not only a factor that enhances intrinsic motivation, but also a word that describes factors that are important to many Autistic people with the PDA profile. A transferable list if you will.

When we really start to respect how these factors link in with our children’s different neurology, we become more able to appreciate why we simply cannot impose our own agendas. All of our conditioned ideas about what children “need to be doing” “should be learning” “have to adhere to” get in the way of parenting our children in the way they need to be parented. When we impose our own anxieties about what learning should look like, we unintentionally cause our children distress. It also only serves to decrease their freedom to learn.

None of this is easy, especially because it sets us off on a path that very few others will be travelling around us. It can feel lonely and it may also feel counter-intuitive at times (depending on your own neurology). But for our children’s very unique needs and for the sake of their mental health, understanding these factors is so very helpful.

In the Q&A With Harry Thompson and Mollie Sherwin this week similar themes were also touched on.

Harry and Mollie provided clarity about how, when we push and try to move our children in a direction that we deem most appropriate; feelings of panic and threat are highly likely to set in. This will naturally drive our children to go in any other direction than the one we are signposting. Harry and Mollie talked about the importance of finding shared direction and establishing equal footing.

Harry also suggested that instead of looking at how we can stop behavior that we wish to extinguish, we focus on what is happening when our children are happy. If we become detectives when their anxiety is low and examine how and why the positive experiences occur – we have a much better chance of building on these positives. By focusing on what is working we can ensure that these factors are then prioritized in order to support and empower our children’s well being.

Thank you to Harry, Mollie, Kristen and Fan for so much great information 💛💛

If you like this page, you may want to visit the accompanying Facebook too:

https://www.facebook.com/ChangingTheNarrativeAboutAutismAndPDA/

By changingthenarrativeaboutautism

Author: Integrative Counsellor, BSc (Hons) Psychology.

Neurodivergent Mother, passionate about the acceptance and respectful treatment of neurodivergent children and adults.

My personal experience, relationship and connection with my son, provides me with a depth of insight into PDA. Our family's lived experience and love for our son, has driven me to research and write about PDA.

In addition to this lived experience, which I am very gradually making sense of, my professional background supports my ability to critically reflect and make sense of some of the strengths and difficulties we face.

My career started in 1999, when I graduated with a 2:1 BSc Hons Psychology degree. As a graduate I worked in a residential care setting for Adults with Autism and Learning Disabilities. I went onto complete a further three years Integrative Counselling training and then later; two years clinical psychology training. My clinical experience includes working for the NHS, Action for Children and Relate:

For the NHS, I worked in a University Hospital Psychology and Counselling service, a Community Mental Health Team, a Parenting Team and a Community Neuro Rehabilitation Team.

For Action for Children, I worked in a Leaving Care Team, and in a residential care setting for Looked After Children.

For Relate, I worked in the young people's service providing therapy to children facing a range of difficulties from trauma, loss and separation to depression, anxiety and self-harm.

I first developed my interest in Neuroscience as an undergraduate. I connected more fully with this during my time working as a trainee alongside a very inspiring Neuropsychologist in a Community Neuro Rehabilitation team. My passion for neuroscience became even more valuable to me, when I became a parent.

The Polyvagal Theory, in particular, has been central in helping me to develop a deeper understanding of PDA.

This led me to hypothesise and write about the relationship between neuroception and PDA in my article “Highly Sensitive Neuroception May Be at The Heart of PDA”.

I hope you find this site helpful and I thank you for your participation and feedback.

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