With all my writings about the difficulty around getting the diagnosis and support for my PDA child I didn’t want to forget to tell you how amazing he is. My son is bright funny, loving, curious, free thinking, non-judgemental and cares deeply about people in his life
In common with parents of many PDA children, there has been times when these things have been harder for me to see. The thing to remember is when any of us are in pain, fearful, or feeling vulnerable and confused our behaviour does not reflect who we really are.
This quote says it all:
‘My child is not giving me a hard time my child is having a hard time’
When an autistic/PDA child is overwhelmed and scared it is extra hard for them to communicate but they are telling you everything you need to know by there behaviour if are able to remain calm enough to listen. If they are shouting, crying, appearing manipulative, aggressively refusing, shutting down or being ‘difficult’ they are telling you they need help.
There was a period in time 2 years ago (of around 8 months to a year) when my son was having such a hard time with school that it was making him was hypervigilant and profoundly anxious that his behaviour deteriorate to such an extent I thought he hated me.
In my previous blog posts The 10 biggest regrets (so far) around parenting my PDA child ..number 4 ‘allowing myself to fall into a victim mentality’ was what was happening there. I knew my son was having a hard time, I knew his behaviour was as a result of that but when it was directed at me (and generally only me) day in day out it was soul destroying. I use to think ‘I love my son so much, why does he hate me?’ It had an awful affect on my mental health and created a vicious cycle.
What was really happening was my son was terrified and alone and had no control over the things that were happening to him so he was approaching the person he trusted most in the world and telling them ‘I am hurting, I am afraid, I can’t keep doing this. please help me only he didn’t have the words to put to these feels so he was showing me. Day in day out he was coming to me with his problems and showing me how he felt but all I could hear was my own reactions to the way he was telling me.
For me the realisation of this was a quick jolt. One day I was once again trying to get him to the interventions service that I had fought so hard to get funded for him after months of virtually no education and he just threw up.
I looked at this pale 9 year old with tears in his eyes standing in his own anxiety induced vomit and as I did he found the words ‘Mummy please don’t make me go, I can’t I just can’t’. I took him in my arms and I told him I was sorry and that I was never going to ask him to do that again. Just like that he was back, my beautiful son. Of course he has never left, he was just hurt, in pain and I was unable to hear him. I allowed him to became a list of difficulties and diagnoses to me and forgot to see HIM. He has never used physical aggression against me, himself or anyone else since, he doesn’t need to as we now have trust.
These days when my son says to me ‘Hey Mum come and watch this it is really interesting’ or his face is lights up when he is telling me about something loves, when he picks me up for being sexist or stereotyping or he is rolling on the floor laughing at something or just having a sock fight with the dog,
I think to myself what a truly awesome child I have.
And even if he gets scared, or overwhelmed and he doesn’t have the words to tell me so behaves in ways that I find challenging I still see that same awesome child and we work through it together. But that happens a lot less these days because he knows I can see and hear him and he feels supported & understood.