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Newcomer needs help
  • Nanna B
    Posts: 4
    Are there varying levels of PDA as in Autism. Have only just found out about PDA but it was like reading a synopsis of my grandaughter but much more intense. She shows nearly all the traits listed but in a lesser degree. She is nearly 4 and has been at kindergarten since last September. A school she is recognised as 'different' for being non co-operative, feigning deafness and hiding under the table but nevertheless is very popular with staff, children and parents alike. Any comments truly welcomed.
  • dirtmother
    Posts: 898
    Yes, definitely - though it may be a case of how severely it is expressed at any particular time/phase (although that can also be about environment)

    When we went for specialist diagnosis, the initial conclusion on the day was that my son's other difficulties (as perceived by the centre) ie dyspraxia, communication disorder where sufficiently severe in themselves to explain the demand avoidance alone and it did not seem that he had PDA. However, we and school were asked to complete a follow up questionnaire and that, viewing the DVD that was made of the assessment and further reflection led to a firm PDA diagnosis. He doesn't meet the triad of impairments for autism (he has a very healthy well-functioning social imagination) and many of the commoner strategies for autism are actively unhelpful.

    I know I'm his mother but he is a very engaging popular child. (I think my other son who does not have PDA is very engaging too but for some reason he is nothing like as popular)

    I wish you could see the footage of a 5 year old at the Elizabeth Newsom Centre which was shown at the seminar in November last year - it wasn't a major meltdown, but a wonderful(?) picture of the extreme effort that children with PDA will put into avoiding demands which are perfectly well within their abilities and a subtle but telling demonstration of the panic they experience.
  • Hope
    Posts: 23
    It is my understanding that there are varying levels of demand avoidance but to be PDA it has to be pretty severe. I saw Phil's video when I was at the Elsiabeth Newson centre and it made me see the difference straight away. My granddaughter also shows signs of demand avoidance but I think that is due to her age and stage of development - she is 2 and a half and very vocal! The same strategies are worth using. Particularly choosing what to battle over and giving them choice when it can be allowed. It saves a lot of trouble with ADHD children too if they can be given small choices.
    The most recent one was over a bag of crisps. No telling her that she had to wait till dinner time, as she had just eaten toast, would work. She started getting stroppy and I immediately changed tactics. This worked for her, maybe it won't for others. She had two choices, wait for them or the bag goes unopened into the bin!
  • Nanna B
    Posts: 4
    Thank you for your replies, we also hope that it is just an age/development thing but we will have to see how things go. We started to apply the strategies suggested on Monday and have already noticed a difference.
    Now we are recognising signs of distress and panic as opposed to angry tantrums we are responding differently, giving the choices and the episodes are over much more quickly with far less trauma to all involved. Hope, using your example of the crisps, she will sometimes choose to 'throw away' but is happy that it was her choice and the 'confrontation' is avoided.
  • Garden
    Posts: 329
    My daughter has PDA and the severity of her symptoms depend on how much stress she's under at any given time. We had a few bad years, when I tried to be very firm with her, but now that I understand about PDA, her symptoms are much less, because I don't put lots of demands in her way. For example, she won't let me in her bedroom without her being there or open her school bag and I tolerate that. I accept that she will only use certain cutlery, won't cope with friends round after school, touching her things, I let her watch tv after school instead of insisting on homework.......... Basically, I avoid a lot of the situations which would cause the symptoms.

    Our daughter also shows one of the less common traits of PDA, which is her complete compliance at school. This is less common than acting out, but is definitely in the PDA literature. She keeps her head down, doesn't actually do much learning, but is no bother and so is able to keep demands at bay. She now goes to a school where she has a lot of personal freedom, compared to her old school, where there was one class teacher who taught most of the time. Now she has loads of teachers passing through her day (they are a bigger school) and she is able to e.g. go to the toilet every lesson, whereas in her old school they knew that she had just been. So she is able to manage the demands much better and as a result she is a much calmer girl when I see her - we don't get the rages I used to get (as she used to keep everything inside til she saw me).

    The paediatrician who diagnosed our daughter certainly thought that PDA can be less severe than you read about in the literature. She was convinced that lots of pop stars have it for example - the ones with the eratic lifestyles, but at the end of the day, they're not doing completely badly. She also said that many adopted children have PDA because of the genetic component - it explains why their birth parent wouldn't/couldn't look after them. Our daughter is adopted and we are sure her birth mother has it, from looking at the information in the files. Our daugthter was neglected and it's as though her birth mother just wouldln't do anything to look after her - it wasn't deliberate abuse as such, but I can just imagine that our daughter cried and the birth mother just couldn't cope with the demands. The paediatrician said she had come across PDA from being involved in care proceedings with local authorities. It's all very interesting in terms of who may have it and how it affects people.

    Hope this helps.
  • mango69
    Posts: 967
    Nanna B,
    Welcome to the forum - I hope you find it useful. It is interesting that Fiona Spears one of the speakers at the recent PDA conference that Amanda organised, used the term PDA spectrum and there definitely seems to be a variance of severity. I have every hope that my son will live independently although I am prepared for it if he cannot. Everyone is different and some will cope better than others at different things. Some days its as though there were nothing wrong with him at all and other days I totally despair!! (Been having a fair few of them recently!) My son is also extremely popular at school with teachers and pupils but boy is he good at avoiding work. I am sure an enigmatic personality can only be helpful in life.
  • Linda
    Posts: 5

    I've only just discovered PDA and this website when I was desperately searching the internet for some answers as to why my daughter was so difficult.

    She is now 7 but she has always been a real handful. She is completely unreasonable and we often have to go over and over and over why something has to be done. She seems to have plenty of friends at school but refuses to have friends over to play or go to anyones house. She prefers playing with children younger or older than her who seem to be more accepting of her controlling ways! She is compliant at school although she is very demanding - when she wants to say something she has to say it now - she has little concept of what is appropriate.

    Looking back now as she was growing up she has always had traits of PDA but I always put it down to being the youngest, strong personality etc etc. I think it would have been easier to have known then as my methods of coping with her would have been very different. The book The Expolsive child, (I've seen it mentioned quite a bit on this site), is absolutely brilliant. Whether she has PDA or not it is well worth reading.

    My daughter seems to go in phases - at time life can tick over fairly peacefully but at other times, (like now!), she ticks most of the boxes. I have found staying calm, choosing my battles, keeping her busy and firmly giving her two options, (do you want me to wash you hair now or in 5 mins), have helped us.
  • Nanna B
    Posts: 4
    Thank you Linda, I have just ordered a copy of The Explosive Child from Amazon, can't wait for it to arrive. Will post another reply when I've read it.
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,582
    Hi Linda

    I think it's great that you have come across PDA and this site by surfing the internet for answers to your daughter's behaviour. Well Done!

    From your post it sounds like you already have a great understanding of your daughter and how to manage her behaviours. I hope all the info on this site can add to all you already know.

    Our PDA children can have good spells and bad spells, so for say 2/3 weeks you can feel like life isn't so bad and maybe the PDA it's going away!!!??? But then suddenly without any warning their behaviour takes a downward spiral and you think, help I can't cope! It's the nature of the disability.

    I've read the Explosive child and I found it very helpful, I would recommend it to any parent who had a challenging child.

    If you want to tell us more about your daughter and your family why not use the Parent Into's is a private section and only open to Parent Members.

    Keep posting
  • Linda
    Posts: 5
    Thank you Paula

    I'm just finding my way around the site so I'll go and introduce myself there.
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