Embracing Positive Boundaries: Navigating Life with a PDA Teenager

Are you familiar with phrases like “Are you going to let him talk to you like that? He’s just a kid” or “I think he needs to be shown who’s in charge here”? As a parent of an autistic young man who loves to test boundaries, I’ve encountered these sentiments more times than I can count. But fear not! By incorporating the following positive strategies into your daily life, you can overcome the challenges of parenting a PDA teenager with grace and resilience.

  1. Choose Your Words Thoughtfully: In our household, we’ve discovered that certain words, like “No,” can trigger intense reactions. For my son, this simple word symbolised a loss of control. By selecting our words carefully and finding alternative ways to communicate, we’ve been able to navigate these situations more smoothly.
  2. Plan Ahead: Neurodivergent teens often thrive with structure and predictability. Before embarking on any outing or activity, take the time to answer their questions and address their anxieties. Show them photos of the destination, discuss the route, and provide them with ample time to process the information.
  3. Reduce Demands: The sheer number of daily demands can quickly overwhelm a child with PDA. From morning routines to transitioning between tasks, every demand adds to their stress. By spreading out tasks, allowing extra time, and preparing in advance, you can help alleviate some of this pressure.
  4. Prioritise Battles: It’s essential to pick your battles wisely. Consider what truly matters to you and your child’s well-being. Is it worth engaging in a power struggle over teeth brushing, or would you rather prioritize a peaceful transition out of the house? By focusing on the bigger picture and letting go of minor battles, you can create a more harmonious environment for everyone.

Remember, every family is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Before engaging in a conflict, take a moment to ask yourself: Does this truly matter in the grand scheme of things? What’s the worst that could happen? Is this a battle I’m willing to fight?

Embracing positive boundaries is an ongoing journey, but with patience, understanding, and support, you can navigate the challenges of parenting a PDA teenager with confidence.

Warm regards,


Peer Support Practitioner

June 2023

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