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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Long-Term Project Breakdowns

Hello, everyone!

Let's talk about long-term school projects, the bane of my demand-avoiding life.

Many schools (particularly as children get older) set long-term projects to be completed, generally over the summer holidays, much to my disdain. With hindsight, it would have been sensible for me to post this prior to the summer, but hey-ho, better late than never.

The stress these stupid projects have caused me over the years is difficult to describe, but I can confirm that it was awful. It feels like you're strapped into a torture mechanism, which is slowly tightening itself, more and more so until the due date arrives. I feared these projects more than anything. There was no real way to escape them, you've had ample time to complete them, there's just no excuse. The main pressures of these ungodly tasks stem from two main points- quantity, and due date.

You're given a long time for them for a reason; a lot of work is expected, and generally it includes a lot of different sections, making it a more complex demand. They often involve research too, which adds on the demand of finding and using various sources for information, which is also stressful.

The due date also causes stress; it seems so far away, so your child will most definitely waste valuable time, telling themselves it's ages away. However, one of the hardest aspects that I find living with PDA has, is the feeling that there's always a demand that needs fulfilling, and like my mind can never be clear or at peace because of it. This is major with these projects- your child is living with that stress for weeks on end, making them feel even more paralysed by the demand, and struggle to complete it all the more.

Every time I was set one of these tasks, I would tell myself that this would be the time I'd do it early, and 'get it out of the way.' That never happened. I always wanted it to be done early, so that my mind could be clear, and not have it playing on my mind... And that's how I recommend you deal with it, with your child. It will most certainly take away a lot of stress, and a lot of anxiety!

I think the best way for me to tackle such tasks would have been to just work endlessly for days, until it was done. I could never do set periods of time working on things, because in my head, having a timetable is just another way of saying 'regular, infinite demand.' I recommend you help your child break it down into sections, and complete it over as long as it takes, in consecutive days, unless this will send them into overload, and they need time to deal with the stress of this, or if they don't have the concentration.

Your child will most likely see the demand as a major thing, with many layers; however, due to the crippling anxiety this causes, they probably won't be capable of breaking it down into sections, or know how to go about completing it. I was particularly prone to insisting I understood how to complete the project, but I'd put that down mainly to the fact that I didn't want my mum to regularly insist that I should be doing my project, for that was added demands, and my 'demand-tolerating cup' would overflow.

I understood the task, I understood what needed to be completed to complete the full project, but I didn't understand how to get started, or how to approach it in practical terms. All I could see was a massive demand, and couldn't see how to break it down, or how to write the first word, or gather my resources. This is why it is essential that you help your child with this, and ensure they know exactly how to perform the small tasks; they'll struggle, it may be hard to sit them down with you (this always felt like 'facing the demand head-on' for me, like it was staring me in the face), so they at least understand how to practically complete it, no matter how difficult it is for them.

Having it done early will be a weight off their shoulders, and then they can finally be released from the box that this demand has locked them in! I highly doubt your child will think this is the ideal plan, well at least not when you're tackling it... you must offer them a lot of reassurance, talk about how they feel about the demand, and explain that it's 'safe' to comply with the demand.

If your child can work for long periods of time, use that to your advantage! Once they get into the work, it probably won't be as 'demanding' as they thought it would be. For me, doing more periods of work felt like more demands. Your child may be this way too; play it by ear.

Good luck!

Annabelle x

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