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Help! PDA Pupil and don't know how to help him!
  • AkiraLe
    Posts: 1
    Hi

    I hope someone can help me, I work at a school for pupils with Aspergers and I'm struggling with a pupil with PDA being very demanding. Some demands are small and acceptable, others large and impossible. Am I wrong not to give in to demands when they're made aggressively? It feels wrong to me to give a pupil what they want in response to swearing as opposed to insisting they ask as politely as possible, and at least try to explain why they want what they want.

    Sometimes I have to say no, there's no avoiding that but it just causes an argument and no amount of compromises are good enough. I'd like to be able to say yes to things, but only following a rational conversation about it. To me this is the point of a special (or any!) education, to learn how to communicate and to function in the "real world", but I don't know if that's an impossible mission?! I'm made to feel like it is by the parents and by the school, but have actually been told little about it. Is it as simple as this child has PDA and therefore we give them everything they ask for because it avoids a tantrum? As opposed than trying to teach them even the smallest amount of acceptable behaviour and communication???

    If anyone has any words of wisdom for me that would be greatly appreciated, its not an area I have much knowledge of and don't want to be asking too much of this pupil, but I don't want them to leave school without having learnt or developed. Thank you!
  • RhanHRhanH
    Posts: 1,141
    Welcome to the forum. I would agree that you shouldn’t give into aggressive demands or swearing and certainly not because they’re having a tantrum or you wish to avoid one. There are many strategies that you can try which will help the child to develop but also help reduce demands.

    Every child needs to learn how to manage themselves in an acceptable way within society. It’s not always easy and can take a long time but by using PDA strategies consistently so the child also learns trust within the school environment this will help too.

    Do take a look at our webinars and the education pages we have here for ideas. If you’d like to chat, feel free to PM me using the messages bar at the top.
  • PDA_ASD_Parent
    Posts: 4,188
    Because those with PDA use manipulation it seems to be the case that there are times they will use aggression, violence, bad language to push people into doing what they want. Of course if you give in it will only reinforce this. So to explain in a way that gets through to that child, whether through logic, PECS, behaviour charts or something else, that they can't use negative behaviour to get what they want is the way to go. As RhanH says they still have to learn what is acceptable behaviour in society. Children with PDA are usually master manipulators and will use the most horrendous behaviour once they spot a weakness.

    This thread might also help as it's from someone in a similar position to yourself:

    https://www.pdasociety.org.uk/forum#/discussion/6092/always-has-an-excuse-and-blames-others

    Brilliant that more professionals are posting because this means awareness of PDA is spreading.
  • Hello and welcome.

    I'm new to the forum too, although I've stalked for a long time.

    I wanted to reply to this line in particular:

    "insisting they ask as politely as possible, and at least try to explain why they want what they want."

    I would flip this around and say something along the lines of "I won't want to listen while that language/tone is being used." In this way you are drawing your own boundaries as opposed to insisting (demanding) they do something. A subtle but powerful difference I think.

    Also it is often very difficult for these children to explain why they need what they do, especially if in a highly aroused state. There isn't always logic to it and it could be completely unrelated to what is going on for them internally. I think of it like someone sliding down a rocky slope and clambering for something to hold on to.

    Waiting for the panic to subside and reflecting on it at a later stage might be easier and could help you to spot patterns, but again sometimes the reason will continue to elude us, them too.

    Good luck :)
  • Hi,

    Great advice mentioned above already. For a quick, visual guide, the PDA society has a great PDA mindmap created by George Timlin: https://www.pdasociety.org.uk/files/download/2b76e17efa91ec2

    Hope this helps.
  • JAFFA
    Posts: 14
    Hi, the best advice I can give is to read Understanding Pathological Demand Avoidance syndrome in children by Phil Christie, Margaret Duncan, Ruth Fidler and Zara Healy. When I discovered that a little girl in my class fitted the profile for PDA, I bought a copy and read it from cover to cover. It is my PDA bible and I find it useful for every single problem encountered so far! Easy to read and full of achievable targets and strategies to help them succeed. Best book ever read!!!!! Enjoy and good luck.
  • Holly59
    Posts: 2,586

    JAFFA said:

    Hi, the best advice I can give is to read Understanding Pathological Demand Avoidance syndrome in children by Phil Christie, Margaret Duncan, Ruth Fidler and Zara Healy. When I discovered that a little girl in my class fitted the profile for PDA, I bought a copy and read it from cover to cover. It is my PDA bible and I find it useful for every single problem encountered so far! Easy to read and full of achievable targets and strategies to help them succeed. Best book ever read!!!!! Enjoy and good luck.



    Totally agree it’s my Bible too. The Explosive Child is very good too. It’s a bit of mix and match .

    https://www.pdasociety.org.uk/resources/education-resources

    Everything is listed on this link . The Webinars are excellent too. You must work together with the parents , ask them if there are any difficulties , make sure they are using PDA Stratagies too.

    Ruth Fidler and Phil Christie have written a new book together , has taken two years , will be published in September .

    Pat xx

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