Masking my PDA comes very naturally to me, as when I am in public all I want to do is fit in and act "normal". But deep down I am extremely anxious and will pile all my stress for home, resulting in a delayed meltdown.
By Ida Anderson
Many people with autism mask by copying the social skills of others. However, people with PDA often have fairly good social skills. I personally mask my PDA because I don’t want people to realise that I am feeling anxious or uncomfortable. I am also very self-conscious and wouldn’t want a meltdown happening in public. I would hold in all my stress and difficulties from that day until I got home. If it was a bad day, I would have a big meltdown and my mum would be the one to deal with it.
Only my parents, brother and boyfriend have seen me go through a meltdown. I wouldn’t want anyone else to know about them, as they’re not pretty and I can scream my head off.
At my previous schools, I used to be the girl that sat at the front of the class, quietly doing work and minding her own business. I was never a naughty one and the teachers always saw me as an example pupil. Good grades, good schoolwork and good homework. Every teacher believed I was doing just fine.
Unfortunately, the only reason I was getting such good grades in school was because I cheated. I would cheat on my exams and redo my schoolwork at home, with my mums help. Before I started to cheat, everyone thought so highly of me and I felt so much pressure to do well. I just didn't feel like I could tell the teachers how much I was struggling.
People never usually expect me to have autism. This is because I can communicate if needed, I am able to give eye contact and I can use appropriate body language. I may find it difficult to talk to new people, but anyone who meets me thinks I’m just shy.
Plus, I often hide my need to avoid things with people I’m not close with. If someone asks me to do something, I would do it and then cry at home over how stressed I was. Or I would pretend I would do it and then in reality avoid it. For example, I once had a life coach who didn’t understand my PDA. She gave me a lot of demands and homework and I said I would complete it and that I will see her again next session. Then when I got home, I was very stressed about it and didn’t want to do the homework or see her anymore. So, I cried to my mum to phone the life coach and stop the sessions.
In general, no one would see how much I struggle with things other than my parents, brother and boyfriend. It can get very exhausting having to hide my PDA from everyone else, but it is how I cope and appear somewhat "normal". At home I am completely different, and I can easily give eye contact to my parents and boyfriend. I can talk a lot and I can express how I feel. I love my home because I can finally be me!