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PDA AND SEVERE LEARNING DIFFICULTIES
  • Sam Murray
    Posts: 2
    Hi,
    I teach in an SLD class and I have been reading the information on the website and wondered about a particular boy that I teach. Does anyone have any idea where I might find information about this type of child as the examples stated all seem to relate to more able children.
    I would be really grateful for any pointers.

    Thanks,
    Sam
  • dirtmother
    Posts: 897
    Good luck!

    At the November seminar on PDA, the issue of PDA and SLD was listed as one of the areas for future research, so you could find yourself a pioneer with this one! As autism is more common in people with learning disabilities, if and when the research is done, I wouldn't be surprised if PDA wasn't more common too. It might be worth contacting Phil Christie and the Elizabeth Newsom Centre direct about this.

    It's true that some of the strategies often suggested are really pretty sophisticated and won't apply to all children (for example, I just love the idea of leaving written notes around rather than asking a child to do something, but if there's a specific reading difficulty, that's not going to be so appropriate), but if you read through the guidance you may well be able to extract some general principles which you can then apply.

    I'd be very interested to hear how you get on.
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,578
    Hi Sam

    Great to see you found this site, hope we can help you.

    My son is 14 and has PDA and Autism with severe learning difficulties(he has fairly good speech, although lacks understanding). He is in a special school for Autistic children.

    I have known about his PDA for approx 5 yrs and have been applying all the different techniques. One thing that definately has helped us is visual symbols/pictures and social stories read very frequently.
    We have picture timetables for every aspect of his day ie morning routine(then even this is broken down into how to get dressed and steps to washing himself etc).

    It is the same at school. We all use the same techniques, giving small rewards or punishments for everything.

    In April The Maze charity in Nottingham held a PDA conference at which a teacher/private consultant gave alot of stratagies in dealing with PDA children with severe learning difficulties. Maybe you could attend the next PDA conference run by the Maze or the Elizabeth Newson Centre. The dates are always given on this site. If you would like more details about the conference or the private consultant who could visit your school please contact "Amanda" on this forum.

    Hope this helps
    Paula
  • Lixina
    Posts: 289
    I've worked with a boy who might be like that. If he started to resist something, than further pressure would make him resist even more, but if I disengaged or gave him options, he'd often do what I wanted. It's actually much more common than often recognized, because for many of these less able kids, too much pressure actually makes them literally incapable of doing what you want. For example, in kids with verbal apraxia, pressuring them to talk makes it harder for them to do so.
    If you read up on the Floortime method, it's quite well suited to severely disabled demand avoidant kids. The book Engaging Autism has a great explanation of Floortime, although they overstate the benefits and their description of autism is inaccurate (autistics can relate to others just fine, they just do so differently, and it takes extra effort for parents to learn how to relate to them in a way that works with how they relate - just like when you don't speak the same language as someone else).
    One thing that may make lower functioning autistic kids more often demand avoidant is how little control these kids tend to have over their lives. Practically everything is decided for them with no input from them, from what clothes to wear to where they will live in adulthood. Any way that you can help them get more say in what happens to them will tend to reduce behavior problems. For example, a child who can't speak may be able to point out what they want or don't want. You can discuss options with them and notice if they seem upset or happy whenever you mention a certain option (for example, one autistic teen started having meltdowns whenever her parents talked about putting her in an institution). Even if they can't communicate very much at all, as soon as you start interpreting and responding to possibly communicative acts, this will improve their communication.
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