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low functioning PDA
  • Lixina
    Posts: 289
    I was just noticing the descriptions of PDA all seem to be written describing a child with good verbal skills and no obvious delays. But I know some of the parents here have PDA kids who have obvious delays and difficulty speaking and such. What does PDA look like in your kids? How do you tell that the kid is being demand avoidant as opposed to just unable to do it due to their difficulties?
  • Moose
    Posts: 1,843
    Having spent some time in my son's school where there is a child with significant learning difficulties and PDA, I would say that it is a question of scale and extent of the demand avoidance.
    Actually, I think this principle applies to PDA full stop, whether it is associated with high or low function.
    Compare the child to peers of equal ability and reference this to the levels of demand avoidance. There will be a significant difference between the two.
    Demand avoidance will be exacerbated by additional difficulties, as these will give rise to added anxieties and more demands for the individual. However, for any case of PDA it is not always possible to say if a specific act of avoidance is due to the syndrome or something else.
    Show me a neurotypical who does not avoid demands some of the time. It is therefore the quantity and quality of the avoidance that is the identifier.

    For parents this is a similar issue to distinguishing between 'can't help won't' and deliberate avoidance or 'naughtiness'. Both do occur, but the 'can't help won't' pushes demand avoidance into a league of it's own.
  • My lil one was echolalic until around 4ish. All she could do was repeat what you said to her, we moved area and it was picked up on by the HV who referred to SALT, after that her speech came on at a tremendous rate. You could describe it as eccentric though as its all learned iykwim.

    I think this is why they couldnt pick up on the PDA when they 1st got psych to look, not knowing if it was the speech issue causing the frustration or what. My lil one couldnt say no till she was 4, usually the 1st word most kids learn. However the demand avoidance was always there along with social development delays, slow to make milestones, clumsiness etc, she had broke her leg before turning 3 and was in a spika for her birthday, says it all.

    Its hard to explain the demand avoidance when they had speech issues but thinking back it was there usually in the form of screaming, biting, banging her head off walls, the floor etc.
  • Garden
    Posts: 329
    My understanding is that PDA can result in some difficulties as the child refuses to engage. My daughter had a lot of learning difficulties at school, partly because she would not do any work.

    But some children with PDA seem to have a lot of other difficulties alongside the PDA. My daughter turned out to have a major Speech and Language difficulty and severe dyslexia, plus lots of Occupational Therapy issues.

    They all became intertwined - she struggled to learn to read because of the dyslexia and so refused to do it and so no one picked up the dyslexia as she wasn't doing any work.

    Her speech and language problems weren't picked up because she was massively into role play and so was able to mask a lot of her problems.

    And so in her case it was difficult to unpick what was due to her being demand avoidant and what was due to other problems.
  • It's a double whammy. I am really struggling to find a way through with dyslexia in particular (dyspraxia seems to be easier to accommodate) - some good strategies for PDA peers don't work for a child who is not literate. My own eyesight has recently deteriorated through age/illness and I have experienced the grey fuzzy page for myself and I felt a real rage.

    It is very difficult to unpick what is *pervasive* demand avoidance, what is demand difficulty as it were and what is frustration over difficulties spilling over into other areas.
  • Moose
    Posts: 1,843
    I slightly misinterpreted the question. :oops:

    I answered 'how to distinguish between a child who is demand avoidant purely due to learning difficulties and one whose avoidance is PDA + learning difficulties.'

    For a child who has both, it is hard if not impossible to pick a specific cause for any act of resistance/non compliance. As has been stated the two are inextricably intertwined and feed off one another.
  • Judeacus may be along to answer this question. She is a learning disability nurse who also managed to get a child referred for PDA diagnosis. Everyone else was seeing the childs behaviours as purely down to the learning disability.
  • judeacus
    Posts: 450
    Sorry Ebony Just burst out laughing when I read your post. Oh dear I think you know me lol

    Sorry to say that part of it is gut instinct based on logic. I think the bset way is learn to read body language and study the person in all settings. Look at their understanding of language. Even the most sever may not be. I worked with one lovely young man who had a diagnosis of autism. He had very limited communication but was very interactive. The more structured we got the worse he got. He understood too much despite being labled as sever. it was the issue around demands and we simplified the language used pictures and the behavior increased. the people he was best with was the daft interactive staff who were in fact a bit spontaneous. Now I think back Im fairly sure He has PDA as it didnt make sense but now it does. i think another indicator is that the kids Ive got on my case load with LD and PDA always appear to have better skills than they show and have almost a dual presentation ie more able at home but more diabled at school almost baby like. ive also found tht most have had either different personas/voice or body language in one area. When you see the changes and compare to other children with a definate LD it sort of sticks out like a sore thumb. Or that could be because Ive done this job for years.

    In fear of repeating myself or sounding like a broken record (for those who have read my other posts) a functional analysis is very good at identifying issues.

    Hope it helps let me know if you want any more info
  • longships
    Posts: 4
    My brother has PDA and moderate LD, which masquarades as severe LD - which I now realise is the PDA coming into play. He starts getting agitated when things aren't going how he wants them to go - ie he's not in charge. He finds not being in control something just unbearable, he starts warning noises (an ooooh ooh sort of noise, he has perfected the most annoying noise cross between a car alarm and angry bird song with an irregularity to it that it almost impossible to block out) which then progress to an angry face and starting to break something / going to pinch you but not.

    This is the stage which must not be passed.

    At this point it is recoverable, he is still able to hear you and you can use distraction preferably of a role play variety his is familiar with mixed with a little humour maybe - never the same response works you have to tailor it to the situation and how much base anxiety he's experiencing.
    The point is that with correct handling (as I now learn is how to deal with people with PDA) he's lovely, without it he's a nightmare in the SAME situation.

    If he was just unable to do it, yes he'd get frustrated but he would respond the same whoever it was with and wouldn't require handling as above.

    He is also able to do things for some people and not others - only when it's worth while!
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,593
    Hi longships

    It is lovely to hear your perspective of your brother as it is very similar with my son who has PDA and moderate learning difficulties, now age 19.

    I certainly can echo with the making noises and then starting to break things or throw things.
    This is also our son's point of - distract OR pay the ultimate consequence!!!

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