It is just over a year since we were told that our Son, then aged 5, has Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) – which is characterised by the need to resist everyday demands due to an underlying anxiety of not being in control.
Since then he has been moved on from 2 schools, asked to leave his child-minder and his only friends have been the teaching assistants at school as he was kept isolated from the other children at school as his behaviour was too unpredictable and he would frequently lash out at his peers.
At home we have had some epic meltdowns – which can last for hours. Looking around the house you can see the scars that these have left – the curtains pulled down in our stairs, the series of broken TV remotes and night lights, the ripped up books/ magazines / paper, the shattered vases & scented candles, the family portrait no longer hanging on the wall.
Despite this I think we have been incredibly lucky.
Finding out about PDAWe learnt about PDA quite early on, which meant that we were able to start understanding why our Son was behaving the way he was and we were able to read up on strategies that we could us to help due his anxieties by changing the way in which we tried to get him to do things. With these strategies our Son is a different person, and the meltdowns & challenging behaviour have reduced. Things can still be challenging, but we are better able to cope.
Not all parents find out about PDA so quickly – these parents can face years of struggling with challenging behaviour without understanding why it is happening or how to change it.
I believe that one of the key reasons for this is that PDA is not included in the diagnostic manual (DSM 5), with many professionals not recognising PDA as a diagnosis.
The National Autistic Society notes that PDA is considered to be part of the Autism Spectrum, however we need widespread recognition amongst professionals so that more children, like my Son, can receive the right diagnosis which means that the right strategies and support can be put in place to help them.
Raising Awareness of PDATo raise awareness the PDA Society are celebrating PDA Awareness Day on 15 May with fundraising events being planned nationally by friends of the society.
I will be doing my part by hosting a cake, coffee and chat afternoon for friends, family and neighbours – watch out for pictures of yummy cakes & fabulous fun as we raise awareness together.
Let’s hope that with enough awareness and support, PDA will finally be widely recognised as a diagnosis so that PDA children and their parents are able to get the support that they need while there is still a chance of making a difference.
If you want to know more about PDA or are interested in hosting your own event, you can look at the PDA Society website for details.
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