I can not begin to describe the feeling of having a document written by someone who has a deep knowledge of PDA, and their understanding of your child when they are not in your presence!
I must admit I laughed through the first 6 pages, and then loved the summary of SEN on page 7 and the full 2 and a half pages of PDA and ASD strategies to be implemented by the ‘educational facility’.
Here are some of the best bits in the opening pages, and clear PDA behaviours. (all are direct quotes apart from Dinky’s name change)
- Her behaviour was, however, very challenging and controlling.
- Lovely temperament at times, and generally has a good relationship with staff
- appeared cheerful and chatty during my visit, even during incidents when she was not complying
- presentation is variable and behaviour unpredictable, with staff reporting that most strategies to support her ability to comply work on some days, but not on others.
- Dinky rarely follows a direct instruction, and, on the rare occasion that staff feel they can do nothing other than say ‘no’ to one of her demands, she can very quickly become violent, throw things, damage property, or attempt to leave the school grounds.
- staff make great efforts to negotiate with her, to accommodate her preferences, or to de escalate.
- Ok this bit made me chuckle! (reluctance to restrain) means staff must go to great lengths to distract Dinky when she runs off (eg Staff have climbed up the climbing frame to divert her attention when she is trying to get over the school fence) Brilliant!
- Much of Dinky’s school day can be spent by staff waiting for her to comply, or trying to entice her elsewhere.
- Regularly runs out of the school building, I understand she is also often reluctant to leave school at the end of the school day. It is likely that she finds transitions in general quite stressful, and she responds poorly to changes in routine.
- Again brilliant! (dinky was asked to show her around) telling me that she could show me the way. However, during a short moment (less than 10 seconds) in which an adult sought my attention at this point, Dinky had left the classroom and could not be seen down the corridors. Dinky was then found on the playground.
- was later able to play with me for a short while, on her own terms in a more open-plan area, though was distractible, and controlling, and politely declined to participate in any other activities that I had brought with me.
- Dinky demonstrated that she could replicate social niceties, and appropriate social behaviours.
- Was calmed by an adult during my visit when in tears because her hands were cold from having refused to come in from the playground.
- Dinky feels at times ‘torn’ between her desire for belonging and approval, and her need to be in control
- She could only play a game with me if she heavily cheated throughout
- Dinky appeared to transgress boundaries during my visit, and consistently took steps to exert control over her environment.
(Some demand avoidance strategies)
- Dinky gently placed her hand on the adults arm and said “you can ask [another child] that”
- she usually tried to convert activities in which she was being ‘tested’ to a situation in which she would be testing others.
- directed adults on several occasions as to what they ‘should’ be doing
- often seemingly cheerfully resist adult interventions on her play and work
- saying “sorry, no can do!”
- retreated into fantasy
- “my boss needs me to do some work”
- Ignored other attempts to get her to stop rocking on her chair and deflected these requests by telling staff that she could not as she was on a ship
- When Dinky was educated in mainstream classroom, she would hide under tables, tip up chairs, and escalate her behaviour for attention when she did not want to complete her classwork
- changing the subject, chattering and interupting
(The report continues)
- At times when she did comply with an adults suggestions during my observation, she often appeared to make her own excuse to comply in order to deny the implication that she was submitting to authority; for example, she eventually agreed to come in from the playground, but only, (she argued) because her hands were cold.
- It is currently difficult to ascertain Dinky’s level of attainment due to her non-engagement with many curricular tasks.
- It is very rare that Dinky will complete a task in a way that an adult intended, even when accepting a ‘forced choice’. for example, dinky happily began to draw a picture of a fox that related to the story they were reading (as the adult intended), before gradually changing this to a picture of a tiger.
- She is considered to be primarily a visual learner.
- Her attention and listening skills are poor due to her need to control the agenda.
- demonstrated some difficulty with sequencing.
- takes language literally
- uses language to manipulate the agenda
- can hold a simple reciprocal conversation when she has chosen the topic herself
- Sensory needs eg heavy persistent rocking on her chair and licking door handles
- very poor understanding of danger and needs close supervision in order to ensure hers and others safety.
summary of SEN
Dinky can at times demonstrate some lovely behaviours such as being helpful, kind and polite. She has significant and complex needs; her primary difficulty in my opinion relates to her particular pattern of social and emotional needs that has led to a provisional diagnosis of PDA. Dinky receives a very high level of adult support in school, and is currently in a small nurture group on a full time basis. Staff now appear to be using many strategies that would be recommended for a child with a diagnosis of PDA. Nonetheless, Dinky is unlikely to currently be making academic progress due to the significant impact of her social and emotional needs, and staff are required to supervise her closely and act promptly in order to keep her and others safe. It is evident that Dinky’s anxiety levels lead her to a constant need for control of her environment, This need impacts upon the quality of her social interaction and hinders her ability to learn and comply at school. There are concerns about the sustainability of her current placement.
Most of the strategies, are also ones noted by the social communication team regarding PDA, with the addition of allowing her to be a helper or teacher, although it is made clear the school should not allow her to take advantage of the power!)
The last section on the summary of SEN is brilliant evidence for a need for special school.
Currently Dinky is still at home as a member of the school’s senior leadership team has failed to contact me for another day! This is despite receiving an email from the governors:
I confirm that I have received your email. I have read your account of the issues relating to Dinky’s schooling and am writing to advise you that I will be following up with the head teacher as a matter of urgency
Got a visit from the integrated services lady.. Dinky was her usual controlling, hyper self while the lady was here and we had to go into her lego infested bedroom to have a 5 minute conversation as she refused to go up there. I thought she would refuse to let us and go up, so we went up instead! I explained the situation regarding the school. She wasn’t best pleased, but didn’t say she would help in any way!
Also it seems things are not quite over with social services. When the social worker tried to pass our case on for CAF+, it was declined, and we have been passed on to have an assessment of needs from children’s services. GREAT! although to be fair both the social worker (when I phoned her to clarify the situation) and the SN group leader said not to worry, if there was any real concern they would have come round a lot sooner considering that the original phone call was made 2 weeks ago, and to use it as an opportunity to get the more support, possibly through direct payments ect.
There is good news! Through PDA strategies I managed to get Dinky to do some ‘work’ while she was at home! The bit I was most proud of was her gingerbread man! (Which she turned into a gingerbread woman as I praised how much it looked like the one in the book!)