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  • Hi, I suspect my son (5) has PDA, but it is not diagnosed as yet. I was just wondering if anyone else has problems with extreme silliness? My son is ultimately a very sensible boy, he is very into rules (despite not following our rules), he is an angel at school/birthday parties and never gets involved with the silliness of the other children, he has the ability to focus on a task amazingly and always has from a very young age - for example, patiently and determinedly tackling a 100 piece puzzle or building lego, working on his reading etc. When he was younger, I used to always comment on how he didn't 'flit' like other young chn between toys but would stick to one thing for ages. However, he has started being really silly most of the time. Unless he is engaged in something he has personally chosen to pursue (when he is brilliant), his behaviour is horrendous - falling over on purpose walking down the street - it's like his body is possessed sometimes and he can't control it, chasing around in shops, pulling stuff off shelves, fighting with his little brother in the supermarket and just being really really silly (using a silly voice, farting on my mum at the dinner table, throwing water out the bath, kicking his clothes off when trying to get him dressed, throwing things down the stairs, reading the words wrong in his book, pushing his brother over for no reason and laughing) - I know boys can be silly but I just don't recognise him when he is like it - it is like a completely different child enters his body and whatever we do makes no difference - you can't get through to him. My husband thinks he needs more sanctions/consequences and I'm just totally lost with how best to handle it. I asked my son and he suggested having some 'silly time' where he is allowed to be silly to 'get it out' but we've tried that and he doesn't seem to be able to then stop it when 'silly time' is over (despite being utterly sensible at school and birthday parties so he clearly can control it- I just don't get it). I can cope with the melt down stuff and needing things a particular way as I can see where it is coming from (anxiety) and just want to comfort him through it, but the silliness is unbearable! Is this part of the PDA or a separate issue?
  • Not sure that is related to PDA. It could just be his personality. It could be rooted in oppositionality (which is part of PDA). It could be a sign of overwhelmedness being expressed atypically. He could have co-morbid ADHD (over 40% of autistic children do).
  • Jellis
    Posts: 1
    My son is 26 and has struggled through his school years and needed extra tuition.
    He has not been able to keep a job from the age of 16 through lack of concentration, understanding of what skills is required to carry out the job, non-organisational skills. not being able to relate to work colleagues causing anxiety. In the last 6 years he has had 2 separate assessments with the local mental health team and they have not been able to draw a conclusion that my son could be on the Autism spectrum. He is now unemployed and has mood swings and becoming aggressive and defensive when suggestions put forward. My husband is losing his patience and does not know how to deal with my son.
    Please could you give me some constructive advice on how to get my son diagnosed.
  • Silliness is one of sons outlets for anxiety. Took a while to work it out. He sounds very like your son. Silliness comes after quiet passive avoidance but significantly before meltdown and aggression. Treating it as a sign of anxiety has helped us.
  • Jellis that sounds like some ADHD traits so I would ask for an assessment of ADHD if they haven't done that already, they are supposed to do differential assessments so ought to also consider autism whilst assessing for ADHD. It might be worth enquiring about PDA too to see if there is any expertise locally.
  • Thanks for the comments. That makes sense now sinkorswim - will keep a close eye to see if it is part of the anxiety. That is really helpful though thanks!
  • Natade
    Posts: 19
    My son is also 5 and not yet diagnosed. He gets extreme bouts of silliness particularly when he doesn't want to do something or he is unsure how to react in a situation. I also believe it could be an anxiety thing. If he knows he is going out and knows he has to get dressed, before he is asked he will start with the sillyness. If someone says hello to him he has started hitting himself in the forehead and making silly noises!!
  • Could he be that his 'silly' behaviour is his way of avoiding demands. That he's using this behaviour to distract and ultimately get away from demands placed on him and depends of general day to day life?
  • I apologise for the very late response to some of these comments - I haven't been on the forum for a while. Things tend to quiet down a little during term time but here we are in the holidays and it's all kicking off again. He is still an angel at school, but his behaviour at home is causing huge upset and conflict. When he has these 'manic' episodes (multiple times a day) I do not recognise my own son and that makes me so sad, as he is the most wonderful, interesting, thoughtful child the rest of the time but then the switch flips and he just isn't my boy anymore and nothing I do will get through to him. He is just silly, destructive, violent and out of control. I don't know what to do with him. Perhaps it is demand avoidance - you very well might be right searl30, as it is mainly when trying to get him ready, tea time, bed time, when he is 'bored' or not getting 100% attention and focus. Does anyone know what we can do with him when he is like this? We are at a total loss. Thanks.
  • Amardeep
    Posts: 1
    I literally just made an account just to comment this. 90% of what you wrote about your son resonated with me, I recently had to go to an educational psychologist who confirmed my suspicions that I had autism (note: he can't officially diagnose). I was having one of my bouts of silly behaviour and as i'm getting older I thought i should try to sort this aspect of myself out and found this.
    Basically from my own experience I do these silly behaviours because these silly ideas pop into my head and I find them so hilarious that I start thinking stuff like "oh my god that would be so funny, I have to do this" then I lose my self control and start doing them (even while reading some of your sons antics I found it hard to resist the urge of laughing as I understand his perspective).
    There is something about Autistic children having a very 'innocent' or 'young' sense of humour or something like that which is where I think this behaviours origins lie.

    To tackle this behaviour I think you should try bring him out of his head (hes in a state of high emotion, the emotion being a seemingly euphoric manic state) and bring him back to reality by reminding him of the gravity of the situation e.g. how his actions have affected others by trying to get him to or see it from the other persons view, he may simply not care due to reduced empathy/TOM but something I have noticed in myself is when i see i have blatantly and visibly upset someone then my guilt and remorse kicks in and this usually brings me out of my head and back to reality.

    I hope you do not feel disheartened by this and remember this boys good qualities far out weigh this behaviour issue, he reminds me of myself (alot) and I'm currently doing a degree in engineering at a russel group
  • Ingram078
    Posts: 3
    This post is so awesome and knowledgeable for me.
  • HannahH29
    Posts: 48
    Hi confused.

    I read this and you are basically describing my son about a year ago ( although lots of the ‘silly’ behaviour persists). My son is 5 1/2 and diagnosed with ASD with demand avoidance in April and we are due a further diagnosis from nhs paed in sept. He basically does similar things ( although it can be very aggressive and dangerous behaviours at this point). He constantly says he ‘needs to get his sillies out’ and the behaviour as you said can be very manic, very much like a switch being turned on and two different characters ( which is a PDA trait). For my son, it’s in response sometimes to what has happened in the day at school like a delayed reaction. It got out of hand wildly when he started formal school and now he can be very unpredictable, impulsive and hard to be around during these phases. I would love to have some advice for you but we struggle to manage this ourselves, but just so you don’t feel so alone. What we try to do to manage is to head it off at the first instance- so go and do something in the garden ( playing football/ scooting) but always physical. It could also be a sensory thing as it is with our son- he has very sensory seeking behaviours xx
  • HannahH29
    Posts: 48
    Also my son ‘behaves’ and masks at school also. But has recently really started to struggle with parties where he used to be so well behaved. He cannot abide silliness or physicality from other children/ rough and tumble play etc. I wonder could a timer help with the silly time? You can get some beautiful timers on amazon or even just a timer with countdown on your phone. It wouldn’t work for my child but may work for you? X
  • HannahH29
    Posts: 48
    Amardeep you have said exactly what my son says! He says he gets these ideas in his head and he just has to do them ( I see it as him having to give into a self imposed demand).
  • HannahH29
    Posts: 48
    Also what you have said Amardeep is so interesting and has helped me so much too! Helps to know you have gone on to achieve and success despite barriers and difficulties. Much respect xx
  • DAC
    Posts: 12
    Hi, ok - holiday= lack of daily structure compared to school and school expectations to behave. He will act out more at home where he feels that he can off load having been on good behaviour at school. A daily schedule helps with a discussed plan for the day or week ahead as they don't do well with change.
    The other thing that did cross my mind is that he may not be getting as much attention as he needs that he might get at school- because school has more staff to do that. So dedicated HIM time when he knows that he is going x with you ( which ever adult it is).
    Good luck- make sure you get down time too in the holiday period as you will be very tired coping with it all.

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