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Language Log

Saturday, Jul. 22, 2017 - 12:00 p.m.

I have been thinking about labels. We're at roughly one year (a little more) since my autism self-diagnosis, and I have found another sub-diagnosis, Pathological Demand Avoidance. Not a "real" diagnosis in the US yet. Very pronounced for Q, and explains a lot about me as well. And then I feel nervous and ashamed, as though I am just looking for labels to justify my bad behavior. Because that's what they say.

How is the autism diagnosis working out for me? It has predicted things I would have difficulty with, helped me find some ways of coping with difficult situations, and put the brakes on self-castigation for my shortcomings. I don't excuse my behavior or feelings, but I do own them and look to other autistics for ways to help. Without the "label", I'd still be flailing about utterly.

So, the demand avoidance. I don't know if it's "pathological" [Actually, now that I've started reading a bit of the literature, it isn't-- I am demand avoidant, but not as extreme as many. Nevertheless I am letting this entry stand, because I think I can gain insight from the label "demand avoidant", even if not "pathological. And so, I am not actually eager to accept labels that don't really fit.]. I started reading a blog written by an adult about PDA and it really resonates in some surprising ways. Anxiety that you don't realize you have until you look at your behaviors. The now-or-neverness of things-- if you can respond to that email right away, it's fine, but if you don't, it'll never get done because avoidance. Not simply procrastination over unpleasant tasks-- even things I want to do, I avoid. So another rush of preemptively feeling the skepticism of others. But the fruitful application of the "autistic" label has me convinced that exploring strategies to overcome these particular limitations, and forgiving myself a bit for my failures, is a legitimate thing to do.

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