Dinky has been diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder-pathological demand avoidance, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and sensory integration difficulties (also known as sensory processing disorder).
Or for short
ASD-PDA, ADHD, and SPD.
Here in the UK there is a documentary series called ‘Born Naughty?’ (Click here for some info on the programme which features children with ASD-PDA)
There are so many comments like :
‘No child is born naughty-it is a parenting issue.’
To an extent they have a point, but not in the way they think… Let me explain…
There was an issue with my parenting… I was made to believe that the only right parenting strategies were those for typically developing children. That was mistake number 1.
I read up on challenging children, watched supernanny and implemented lots of new behavioural strategies. They didn’t work.
Then I found out about PDA, had my lightbulb moment and this came with new parenting strategies, ones I hadn’t tried. I had spent so long using the wrong parenting strategies, I was parenting wrong!
I needed to be parenting for an autistic child with PDA!
I changed my parenting, I made lots of visuals, gave her different ways to communicate when she couldn’t, changed my wording when I needed her co operation, I gave her choices within her routine, and allowed her to feel more in control.
What a difference! School though we’re still using the wrong strategies, she wasn’t learning, she was labelled ‘naughty’, they refused to use the ASD-PDA strategies in favour of typical strategies and even worse, strategies for behavioural disorders, which had the opposite effect. The only reason she was seen as naughty was due to the ignorant assumption that the behaviour is just naughtiness rather than another form of communication, and they blamed her for their strategies not working. When in reality if you have tried to teach a child something 100 times and they still haven’t got it, it is not the child that is the slow learner. Thinking that there is nothing you can change about the way you deal with behaviour is the biggest mistake one can make.
Meltdowns in public started to make sense since the sensory integration was identified and I changed my parenting. I gave her ear defenders and sunglasses, I allowed her to engage in her sensory seeking and just made sure it was safe, instead of getting upset and telling her off for spinning or bouncing when people glared as she was expected to be still. I learnt to ignore people more, children should be allowed to move and spin and bounce and flap!
Dinky then got her ASD-PDA diagnosis and now goes to a special school, things are so much better, the right strategies are being put into place. She is no longer labelled ‘naughty’. She is treated like a child with ASD-PDA, ADHD and sensory integration difficulties!
Now she has the ADHD diagnosis, I have put in more activies in our routine to help release some of that built up energy. She is on medication and can now concentrate and is learning in school with the right strategies that take all of her diagnoses into account.
You wouldn’t use parenting strategies for a 15 year old on a toddler, or toddler strategies on a 15 year old, so why use strategies for typically developing children with children with a diagnosed neurological condition?
This is why I hate diagnosis of neurological conditions being called ‘labels’, it suggests that is the end of it. It isn’t … It is the beginning. It is a signpost to the right strategies.
So yes, it is a parenting issue that only diagnosis and understanding can solve.
No child is ‘born naughty’!