The greatest rewards of life with PDA

It’s important not to focus on a list of ‘deficits’ and forget that we’re all individuals … there are a huge number of strengths and positive qualities that often also accompany PDA.

some of the words parents most commonly used when asked to positively describe their PDA children.

some of the qualities PDA adults used to describe themselves, collated from responses in two Facebook groups.

In the PDA Society’s 2018 survey we asked parents/carers of children “What has been your biggest reward in being a parent of a PDA child?” and we asked partners/parents/carers of PDAers “What is the best thing about having them in your life?”.

Whilst there were many who understandably found no rewards in living with a PDA profile of autism, and many more who mentioned the roller coaster nature of PDA, reassuringly the vast majority of respondents had lots of positives to share.

Responses will inevitably be coloured by where families are on their ‘PDA journey’ and may give some hope to those who are currently experiencing the hardest of times.

Here are the top 5 answers parents gave …

  1. Love – the strong, loving relationship was the reward most often mentioned
  2. Personal growth as parent/carer – many respondents talked about the positive impact on them as individuals, learning to trust their own instincts, discovering and developing new skills and growing emotionally
  3. Personal qualities of their child – intelligence, humour, creativity, talents, individuality, resilience, determination … were just some of the positive attributes parents quoted
  4. Seeing things go well when the right strategies are in place – and the positives which follow the lightbulb moment of discovering PDA
  5. Seeing their child develop self-awareness and coping skills

Partners/parents/carers of adult PDAers mentioned many of the same points and highlighted many of the same admirable personal qualities – loving, humorous, courageous, intelligent, unique …

These extracts are a flavour …

“The wit, the courage facing day after day of stress, the delight in language, the bizarre determination to hang in there and learn whilst simultaneously having to utterly avoid everything. Everything. He is just awesome in every way.”

“He is a complete original. Endlessly curious, interested in life, intelligent, funny, accepting, non-malicious, non-jealous. I am never bored!”

“She has taught me patience, a different perspective (people do not always behave as you expect or want them to) she has taught me to expect the unexpected. To be compassionate to others as everyone’s coping abilities with different levels of stress vary – what seems easy for me to cope with is not necessary easy for another. She has taught me how to love unconditionally. Despite the difficulties of every day I am blessed to have her in my life.”

“Inspired by the way he accepts people regardless of status and the way he never gives in when he wants to achieve something and watching his body fill with delight once he has done it. The way he still loves to hug his Mum even though he is 22. He is amazing.”