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Both Aspergers and PDA traits
  • I was wondering whether other parents have children who do not quite fit typical diagnostic criteria for either Aspergers or PDA, but seem to have some of both.

    My 4 yr old son was not passive as a child and does have his special Aspie interests: straps, strings, electrical cords. He's not narrowly focused on these things. In his own way he has broad interests. But everything comes back to those in one way or another.

    He is alternately passive or active in his refusal to do simple things. For instance, he must be prompted 1000 times to hang up his coat at preschool. In many ways he seems precociously intelligent, but with regard to following rules at school or home, getting dressed, doing simple lessons, he functions on a lower level than "lower functioning" kids. Some of this seems to be related to a kind of ADHD distraction, while some is active resistance. He does not have a problem with violence. His tantrums are rarely explosive. But he can whine for hours.

    He potty trained early and is cooperative about trying new foods, and with bedtime rituals. He is very behind in dressing himself, brushing teeth, etc. His preschool teacher recommends that we place him in a "self-contained" rather than "integrated" special ed class, because he is so far behind in his classroom behaviors. He is social with adults, not kids. He mostly ignores peers, though he does make his two year old brother play some of his games (and this often works well).

    On the PDA front, he loves to pretend, and loves novelty. He has a good sense of humor. He's bossy when playing imaginary games but there is some flexibility. I can introduce new twists in his imaginary scenarios and he'll accept them. He can have very interesting conversations and is often delighted by new information: for example, the fact that some butterflies can taste with their feet. He asks questions constantly, and they're often good questions. Here's an example of his intelligence: he likes the phrase "makes no sense" and he uses it appropriately when something seems absurd to him, like the fact that we never see Elmo's mommy and daddy on Sesame Street, even though Elmo is supposed to be 3 years old.

    He goes through phases where he is too distracted to pay attention to books, and at other times, pays close attention and asks very good questions (though this interrupts the flow of the story). He was very interested in music for a while, and we gave him CDs and a player, but now he refuses to listen to music except on the car radio. He lost interest in TV completely for a year, but now he will only watch the same videos over and over (mostly Wiggles, unfortunately). He likes to discuss these videos though, and we try to broaden his knowledge by talking about Wiggles-related things (he is now interested in the fact that Australia is in a different time zone, and that it's night there when it's day here, etc.).

    Any of this sound familiar?
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,578
    Thankyou for your message, I enjoyed reading about your son and all his traits/behaviours. At 5 my son was learning delay, at 6 Autistic, at 9 Aspergers, at 11 Autistic/PDA, which I now believe describes him the best; I suppose what I'm trying to say is that it is very hard sometimes to pinpoint a childs diagnosis and yes I do believe that they can be both Aspergers and PDA.
    All of what you said sounded very familiar especially the bit about music. When ever our son showed an interest in something like music or computer games we would think ah a new interest so we would try to feed the interest just like you and exactly the same thing would happen! If we bought him the CD Player he would refuse to use it and never play music again! We bought him a lava lamp because he would not leave his brothers alone but when he looked at the box he through it away and has never touched his brothers since. Do you think that they are senseing that we are trying to tell/show them what to play with and therefore because it is about control they won't do what they think we want them to do.
    At 5 my son would let meput twists into his imaginary games but now at 11 I wouldn't even dare to try, yes he is very aggresive!
    The decision ie normal v special school is very difficult, my childs aggression made me opt for special after 2 years in normal school.

    It's a very wide spectrum we just know our children are on it somewhere!
  • mark103
    Posts: 11
    Thanks for your reply. What kind of imaginary games does your son play? How did his games and interests progress over the years? My wife and I are interested in what form our son's games might take in the future.
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,578
    At 5 years old our son lived in fantasy land about 90% of his waking day. He would pretend he was a dog/cat/fox/monster/pokemon/power ranger and would want me too be one too and join in his fantasy. Most of the time he would tell me what he wanted me to do in the fantasy but occasssionally he would let me make the odd sugestion of what the dog might like to eat for his supper! His interests were mainly very physical, like going to the park,swimming, going bike rides, playing in the garden; he would never want to sit down and paint etc.
    What is he like now? Well he definately still has his fantasys but they are a bit more grown up. He now pretends to be a soldier in a tank and goes round shooting everyone and you definately have to die!!!! Or he is a workman on a machine,like a road worker with a heavy drill. Nowadays he does not want us to join in because apparently we never do exactly as he wants us to!!! He doesn't spend as much time in his imaginary games, maybe 40% of his day. The rest of his free time is spent on the computer/TV/going out ie swimming, play centres, toy shops, cafes. He gets bored very easily so 30mins. on the computer then were out in the car to the farm park or playcentre.

    Hope this may answer your questions, if not ask away!
  • mark103
    Posts: 11
    That's interesting. At 2 1/2, our son decided that he would only be called by the name of a playmate and he was very rigid about this for a few months. We could only call him by this other name day and night. At 3, he started pretending to be animals and was very interested in what they did. He particularly insisted on being a dolphin and showed people his dorsal fin. Then he insisted on being one or more of the Wiggles, finally settling on Murray. He wanted to watch the Wiggles constantly. Then he insisted that he was a baby (imitating his baby brother). He still imitates his 2-year-old brother's immature speech patterns now and again, but he does not insist he is someone else. Most of the time he has been himself. In the past month, he has gotten back into pretending, but he seems very aware of the difference between pretending and not pretending, and he is willing to be different things, most often Food Boy, the son of Food Man, a silly superhero on some Wiggles tapes... I'm supposed to be Food Man. Also, Big Ears from Noddy.
  • Pamela
    Posts: 205
    Just thought I would chip in here....our daughter Olivia (11) is always in the land of fantasy and it is very difficult to get her to understand what is real. When she was 7 she used to have swimming lessons....Olivia could not swim, but on one occasion she had arrived at the pool with an american accent and when her swimming instructor asked her to do something she said Olivia can't. Oliva then told her instructor she was ernie (from sesame street) so the instructor asked Ernie to swim and Olivia swam a whole width, when the instructor said "now I would like to see Olivia do that" Olivias reply was "Olivia can't!" there are many times l;ike this that we have experienced with her. She also takes on characters from favourite movies..Scooby, Casper, Pokemon etc. In fact, considering her low abilities and the fact she doesnt read or write she can recite whole chunks of dialogue in character and yet she struggles to maintain a conversation and stay on task? I think she does this as an avoidence strategy and when she is anxious or uncertain of things - it is her 'safe zone'.
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