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Helping a child understand their PDA
  • DCL
    Posts: 8
    Hello, I am a TA and have worked with a PDA child for nearly 3 years. He is now 10 and is showing more self awareness. We talked today after he had shouted and refused help during a lesson. He said that he doesn't know why he says "No" all the time and that he thinks it is in his brain but he can't change his brain because that's "Just the way I am."
    I am so impressed that he is beginning to think more objectively about his difficulties (he knows he is autistic, but not about PDA).
    I would so like to help him develop his self awareness and to help him change the default setting of nearly always saying "No!"
    I talked about practising saying "yes" when teachers want to help him, but I don't know whether I am asking too much or approaching this the wrong way????
    Does anyone have any ideas or resources (preferably visual) that could help him to understand (as a precursor to changing) his behaviour.
    We already use a range of reward charts, treats, choices, compromises, negotiations etc, but I'm really looking for something that could help develop this embryonic self awareness.
    He is a bright and sensitive boy.
    Thank you in advance!
  • PDA_ASD_Parent
    Posts: 4,188
    Maybe instead of putting any pressure on him to say "yes" (even having that explained to him is likely going to be seen as a demand) you could try humour, reverse psychology or indirect ways. Such as transferring it onto a toy or another person (who could be fictional, such as a favourite character) like saying "I wonder what Joe Bloggs would do in this situation, I wonder if it's better for him to say yes and do it than not do it". Then it might feel like he's deciding for someone else not himself.

    Have you tried PECS-style social stories?
  • DCL
    Posts: 8
    Thank you that's a really good idea. He has a cuddly rhino and we already do a lot of role play with Rhino, I'm sure I could develop this further. I have used social stories too, and I'll look into this a bit more. Thanks for replying!
  • PDA_ASD_Parent
    Posts: 4,188
    Good luck!
  • Holly59
    Posts: 2,586
    https://www.pdasociety.org.uk/resources/books

    How about reading some of the children’s books together ? Giving him two choices how it could work for him ? You could even suggest he could make his own personal book so he could share this information with other teachers , staff . That way it puts him in charge .

    Try every Stratagy in the Book till you find one that works . I agree with reverse psychology . Indirect demands are an absolute must . The toy Rhino is a great idea .


    You could always develop your own PECS style PDA stories and Patent them !


    Pat xx

  • DCL
    Posts: 8
    Thank you Pat. I agree with you about trying every strategy. What works one day doesn't always work the next! I agree about the reverse psychology too. I like the idea of him writing a book to share information about himself with others, especially now that High School is fast approaching.
    Thanks so much for posting
  • Holly59
    Posts: 2,586

    DCL said:

    Thank you Pat. I agree with you about trying every strategy. What works one day doesn't always work the next! I agree about the reverse psychology too. I like the idea of him writing a book to share information about himself with others, especially now that High School is fast approaching.
    Thanks so much for posting



    Don’t forget the Role Play , he is the Teacher , Adult .

    If they refuse to do something have you tried I will ask so and so to do it ? That sometimes works because they are no longer in control . Then all of a sudden the last ten reasons why they can’t possibly do something suddenly they find a way to solve the issue and can do it . They want to control again .

    Some days unfortunately you just have to walk away and regroup for the next day .

    We asked my youngest at College what bothered him most . It was very suprising what he could tell us .

    Good Luck with the transition .

    Pat xx

  • DCL
    Posts: 8
    Ha Ha, yes role reversal is just great. I 'forgot' how to add fractions today and he was very happy to teach me!!!

    I'm interested that your youngest has been able to tell you what bothers him. Do you think that is something that develops with age (the ability to talk objectively about him/herself)?
  • Holly59
    Posts: 2,586

    DCL said:

    Ha Ha, yes role reversal is just great. I 'forgot' how to add fractions today and he was very happy to teach me!!!

    I'm interested that your youngest has been able to tell you what bothers him. Do you think that is something that develops with age (the ability to talk objectively about him/herself)?



    Neither of my boys have a formal diagnosis . The youngest now twenty has been at College for two and a half years . It seems a lifetime . He was a late diagnosis Aspergers at seventeen . School was horrendous for both boys .

    I personally have found as they have matured they have found their own coping Stratagies. The issue with my two I didn’t recognise the PDA till 18 and 19 . We have had to undo years of misdiagnosis especially will the elder of the two boys .

    We just asked him what he found the most difficult issues were for him . He has been told he doesn’t have to play solo infront of the Orchestra if he doesn’t want too , we now do as much practise of the instruments as possible within College , apart from his individual lessons , he told us he struggled with a particulat module , the tutor said he had passed that so he didn’t have to re do that module .

    I pay for one of the students to help him mentoring my way . Fun and relaxed . All of the individuals helping him are using PDA Stratagies .

    It could be he finds assemblies too much , may be a particular subject , a particular sport , what you are hoping to achieve is to reduce the anxiety .The book for the High School could include a toy Panda . He can explain that he is special and needs looking after in a special way but he can teach them , make him the teacher , the adult in charge , or so he thinks so .

    He passed the first BTEC but with not enough Merits to get into the HND course . The second time he sat it the results were brilliant using PDA Stratagies so he is now well through the first year of the HND course .

    Main issue is exams . It’s an absolute nightmare . That’s why as much as possible is done by continual assesment . They can record pieces and show the examinier when he is more relaxed .

    If everything could be done by continual assesment how much easier our lives would be . There is the opportunity of separate examination room , suggested playing music on the background , scribe if he wants . Laptop. Trying every technique to reduce the anxiety and stress .

    Pat xx



  • DCL
    Posts: 8
    Thanks for replying Pat. Sounds as though you have had a real roller coaster ride. Brilliant that your children are succeeding in the education system and that as they have grown up this has helped them to understand and manage their stresses and anxieties.

    I so agree with you about exams / tests. We are approaching the dreaded Year 6 SATS next year. That will be a tough one to cope with.

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