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PDA and School refusal(13 Posts)
I have never done this before and not sure if putting message in the right place but thought would give it a go and see if anyone has any thoughts as feeling quite desperate.
My son is 11 and diagnosed 1 year ago with high functioning autism and PDA.
He has an EHCP and recently started at an autistic resource centre in a main stream secondary school. The staff are brilliant - if he gets there! However he refuses to go in about once a week and today he has announced he has quit school. If I try to persuade or discuss this he goes mute which I find quite frightening as he can lie on the sofa with a cover over his had for hours.
I live in Wandsworth and tried to get on an autistic parenting course. They said their standard advice would not help with PDA possibly making things worse. They advised going to CAMHs who have said we are not bad enough for their services and have not suggested anything else despite us begging and pleading since last march. The PDA society suggested home schooling but as we find it nearly impossible to get him to do any homework I cannot see how this would work. We have him on a reward chart which is centred around school and homework but when he is in his refusal mode he isn't rational and the advise is rewards and consequences don't work with PDA - I feel as if I am tying myself in knots and would be grateful for any thoughts on strategies, organisations etc
We took our 15 yr old (undiagnosed PDA) out of school to homeschool him, he's much happier, is that an option?
I have an 11 yr old diagnosed PDA who school refused when he was younger, we helped a bit by making mornings very predictable, he had a list to complete - things written down were less of a demand than telling him.
Have school suggested anything they can do to help? I've read about a child having a flexible approach to starting lessons and a quiet area available whenever he needed it, which helped to take the anxiety out of the day.
I don't know if you've seen this
We found using this helped at home, we printed it out for school but they wouldn't even look at it!
Might be worth having a look at.
learning is different when you homeschool. There are far less demands, and the child can feel far more in control of their own learning. Often when you start homeschooling you can avoid any formal learning for a bit, and the child begins to find out what THEY are interested in, and pursue this.
If you combine homeschooling with a certain amount of getting out and about (meeting other home schooled children in open spaces comes to mind) there is no danger of a child vegging out in front of screens all day. A lot of screen time can be a learning opportunity too.. we enjoyed watching Red Dwarf together for example and various documentaries.
Anyway, I recommend it...took my 12 year out end of year 7, and he has only gone back now [refreshed] end of Year 9/10.
Thanks so much for replying - and thanks PigPigTrotters - I have seen this before but have printed it off again and will study in more detail.
I remain very reluctant to home school as I can't see how it would work. Maybe I need to find out more. I am afraid of social isolation for both of us and worry that school can offer so much more as his main subjects of interest are DTand ICT - one of the reasons he was keen to go to the school he is at is because of all the specialist equipment they have and I don't understand how you recreate that at home. He is cleverer than me and already knows more about all these specialist subjects than I do. How do you sustain a relationship with your child as currently I feel the staff at the unit can build up a different relationship to the one I have with him- I get totally depressed when I try to do work with him at home as he cries and screams and when I try to prevent him looking at screens he either goes mute and won't talk at all or can become quite physical and very grumpy. Is there training on how to overcome these issues and how do you keep yourself sane. If there is a sibling (he has a younger brother) how do you balance out their needs. Maybe if I could overcome my fears I would feel calmer about it. Ultimately I still hope to find a solution to him getting to school. Do people who homeschool manage to reintegrate their children back to school? Currently he is at a unit with all sorts of expertise such as OT(he has sensory issues as well) and I am worried he will no longer have that.
Personally I think you need to want to home ed for it to work.
Dont get me wrong we were pushed into it but if we hadnt wanted to home ed we could have pushed for a different setting, in fact one was offered to us at the very last minute before Dd3's placement failed.
You say he is in a unit in a mainstream, does he access the mainstream classes or is he in the unit all the time?
Also try not to call it school refusal! Try to think of it as unable to attend due to anxiety! That way people are likely to try to help more rather than see it as a behaviour issue and potentially blame you for not sending him!
Remember all things to do with PDA are anxiety based. Throw away the traditional parenting handbooks and do what you need to do to reduce his anxiety.
The book "The explosive child" might be helpful to you but you will still probably need to adapt it if he finds discussion/negotiation too difficult at the moment.
If you go over to the Home Ed boards they give a lot of advice, links etc.
The first day I took ds out to a home ed meetup (in a park) and he went on the climbing frame and actually joined in with the other children his age, and they just welcomed him without judgement. I nearly cried then. All those days he had been stuck in school, no-one talking to him except teachers. That to me has been the most important thing about home schooling.
I found something he liked doing, and another person who home schooled and just built it up from there. Very few goals at first except just enjoying life.
I have two other children who enjoy school.
He has reintegrated now, but I often think if I had just continued he would still be fine. More work for me though at GSCE level. But up till Year 10 I think GSCEs are less pressing.
Maybe do less work at home after school? Could he go to homework club IN school? Watch lots of telly afterwards to destress. Reducing homework might be first step to reducing demands that make school intolerable if you want to keep him there. Increase fun things in school for a while? Ds definitely liked some parts of school but there weren't enough of them at the point at which I removed him.
Now that ds is back he does occasionally say, that's it I quit, had enough etc I want a formal apology (from pupil who was annoying him etc) but it tends to blow over if I just accept he is upset and listen for a while rather than airbrushing it away or getting anxious. Focussing on positive things also helped ds, lessons he does enjoy etc.
thanks for responses - really encouraged that not alone - when I try to explain the problems to most people I don't think they believe me.
The unit he is on is really impressing us with their efforts to engage him and the school welfare officer is - to my surprise trying to help. The PDA society are also good about replying to questions. Thanks knitting needles for reminding me not to panic when he makes comments like "I quit' as he does often make sometimes quite extreme comments on impulse but gets over it
We find playful parenting is helpful as well as the explosive child
Margo suthlerlands books about kids and for kids are great too
OP thank you for starting this thread. DD (14) has undiagnosed PDA and suffers with anxiety, thankfully she has recently met with the school nurse to talk things through. CAMHS was suggested but she refused to go as a friend told her they were rubbish and didn't help at all - probably true from what I've heard from other families.
The end of last year at school was awful and she was adamant she wasn't going back this year, especially starting her GCSEs. She did and has been doing well but 5 weeks in I am starting to see the pattern of leaving homework late, not being prepared in the morning and losing sleep. We have talked about homeschooling and she would like to give it a try but I don't want her to be isolated from the few friends she has. Also, similar to your DS if I try and help her at home she gets angry because "I don't understand what she is trying to tell me". I have learnt to leave her alone to calm and then wait for her to talk to me rather than initiating any conversation about school.
Thanks too PPs for the book recommendations, I will have a look at those.
Sorry for crashing your thread OP
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