More about Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome

I have finished reading my new book, Understanding Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome in children, and I'm so convinced that Bright Eyes falls into the 'PDA' category of the autism spectrum that I am going to look for someone in Australia who will diagnostically assess him for it. In fact, it felt like I was reading my own book back to myself in the descriptions of some of the behaviours of the children and the way adults should best respond! 

This really is a book worth reading if you have a difficult child of any kind. If you don't want to spring for it, you can find a lot of the information for free here. PDA was described 30 years ago, but it has really only come to be thought about more in the last couple of years, so it is very new.

Here are some quotes from the book which I underlined and put exclamation marks in the margins next to them.

"Children with PDA may also use straightforward refusal or outbursts of explosive behaviour including violence. It is best to see these explosions as a form of panic on the part of the child. It is usually when other strategies haven't worked or when their anxiety is too high and their tolerance too low that they will 'explode' or have a 'meltdown'.

"They pay little attention to the attempts of adults to appeal to their 'better nature'."

"Children with PDA can characteristically switch from one mood to another very suddenly... 'like switching a light on and off'. "

"Rapid and unexpected changes of moods, together with their overall variability of behaviour makes children with PDA very unpredictable and wearing to be with. Many parents and teachers describe this feeling as though 'you are always walking on eggshells'."

"The child often seems to be driven by anxiety and uncertainties. This results in him needing to be in control."

"...this results in the children expressing that they can't do something or won't like it as a first response to any suggestion or activity..."

"The use of structure, routine and behavioural principles of reward that are usually successful for children with autism are less likely to be so effective for children with PDA."

"The first thing that every adult must remember when dealing with the child is that every interaction or exchange is a transactional or two way process. ..If the adult isn't part of the solution they will become part of the problem." 

"If PDA is understood as an anxiety-driven need to be in control and avoid other people's demands and expectations, it is essential to think about which particular situations are provoking high levels of anxiety for the child at this particular point in time."

And finally, "the child's difficulty with cooperation or lack of tolerance isn't something that he can simply overcome by an act of will or by 'trying harder'. There is a real coping problem here which has to be recognised; the problem is an incapacity rather than naughtiness."

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