Posted on 24th Sep 2018
I’m a blogging virgin, who has arrived at this point because I have found more solace and invaluable advice from bloggers like Steph’s two girls, LovePDA, The Learning Curve and PDA Parenting than most professionals I’ve encountered (apart from a handful – you know who you are if you’re reading this!).
As no two PDA’ers are the same; I’m hopeful that I can add something slightly different without diluting the wonderful contribution of others and, if nothing else, raise some much needed awareness about PDA along the way.
I’m wife to a self confessed control freak and mum to two dragons: my 12yr old daughter (Neurotypical #justsaying) and my 10yr old son, diagnosed ASD with a generous dose of pathological demand avoidance thrown in. Oh, and our beautiful Springador who is a great distraction from the daily grind.
My story, thus far, reads very much like so many PDA journeys I’ve researched to death over the last 12 months (I’m very good at research…..it tricks my brain into thinking I’m doing something worthwhile). I’ve ticked all the boxes from the ‘bad parenting’ box (we ticked that twice actually – just for good measure) to the ‘changing schools’ box and the ‘we can’t help your son because we don’t recognise PDA’ box. Finally, after chasing our tails for three years, and repeatedly ending up in the same spot at the expense of my son and the family, I’m stopping the bus and resolutely disembarking (I’m leaving the baggage on the bus too – the guilt, the frustration and blind faith are of no use to me where I’m heading).
My son, started refusing school, on and off, around March this year despite all their support and his amazing Learning Support Assistant (LSA) properly carrying the PDA mantle. His anxiety levels increased as the year progressed and his behaviour escalated (meltdowns of violence and self harm). Over the summer break, we went to France for a couple of weeks with friends and we experienced more moments of joy with him in those two weeks than we’ve had in the last year. With the start of the new school year (Y6), he went rapidly downhill again. We told him there was no pressure to go in, but we foolishly didn’t account for that annoying achilles heel of an ‘internal demand’ and the fact that he wants to go in, of course! So, with the view to safeguarding his mental health (he asks to die everyday) and facing the cold, hard truth that none of our collective initiatives have done anything to minimise his pain, our GP has signed him off school on medical grounds until the end of October.
I’ve only just told him…as you can imagine; the timing and the wording was critical. The gist of it involved a) apportioning blame to the doctor (we’re not saying you can’t go to school), b) reassuring him that his valued friendships could be maintained with regular playdates and c) it’s not forever. His reaction was unnervingly vanilla, but it’s early days and only time will tell…which brings me, (eventually!) to the main reason I’m heading off on this blogging journey: To capture and monitor daily life as we take off on this new trajectory, to selfishly offload some of the tougher times and celebrate the wins. With any luck, I can offer some help along the way too.
Writing my first blog has been unexpectedly therapeutic (a healthy alternative to self medicating with gin!). As a parent of a PDA’er, I’ve developed a tough skin and welcome honest feedback…….as with everything else, it’s a ‘work in progress’.