My name is Sandra McConnell and I'm the PDA Mama Bear. I'm an educator, blogger, and speaker on Autistic Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). I also have two graduate certificates in Learning Differences & Neurodiversity specializing in Executive Functioning and Autism from Landmark College (2021); a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychophysiology from Argosy University (2006); and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Criminology from the University of New Mexico (UNM, 2000). I have experience in organizational leadership, corporate communications, mediation & conflict resolution, negotiation & elicitation, photography, and even crime scene investigation. I live in Maryland, USA, with my husband who's ADHD, my 12-year-old son who's PDA, my 9-year-old son who's ADHD, and my 5-year-old daughter who's TBD.
And, plot twist! I'm a diagnosed "secret" Schizoid. Don't worry, it's not schizophrenia, it's somewhere on the spectrum, next to autism, PDA, ADHD, etc., so I still identify as "positively PDA." However, the schizoid lens and literature has been a huge help, because it examines what behavioral approaches ignore: the development of the "self." All children are developing a sense of self, but the differently-social neurology of schizoid and PDA means attempts to control them feel like an INTRUSION, not a motivation. No wonder they're beseiged by so much anxiety and driven to avoid and control. Note that in this paradigm, avoidance & control are SERVANTS, not masters, to the true need, SAFETY. This is good news, because there are a LOT of ways to create psychological safety, more than you'd think, though hard to imagine. They do, however, all include warmth, wisdom, and trust. If you seek me for coaching, we'll focus on uncovering hidden threats to the "self" and ways to provide safety.
I offer a few virtual sessions each week to train/coach adults about PDA, at either 3:30pm/afternoon or 8:30pm/evening in the eastern United States on weekdays. I use a flexible Q&A conversational style. I can speak to practical and theoretical aspects, from both insider and parental perspectives. The first one-hour session has no fee or obligation (but if you benefited please consider donating to PDA North America). Additional sessions are $75/session/hour, with total 3 sessions being typical.
To inquire, fill out the form below, and I will offer my next opening that matches. It may take me a few days to offer a date, as my calendar is always evolving.
You can also use the form below to simply ask a question, without seeking an appointment. It may take me up to a week to answer because I give each response my best. Thank you!