As some of you will know, I’ve been desperately seeking help for my daughters increasingly out of control behavior and, up until recently, finding little to no help at all.
One of the biggest problems that I’ve faced in my efforts to garner any form of professional assistance for her is the genuine lack of belief out there that a child of her age could act out so violently without cause.
Now when I say ‘without cause’, what I actually mean is that all (bar one health care professional), have sought to turn the ‘blame’ for my daughters behavior back on to me as a parent.
Clearly I must have been doing something wrong, like not standing up to her firmly enough, not providing enough discipline or maybe as a parent even failing to impart to her the correct and expected standards of behavior.
Perhaps, if my daughter’s behavior is abusive and aggressive, then it must be because I, as her mother am also abusive and aggressive?
Well, I’m not abusive or aggressive. I’d much rather run from a fight than jump up and start one.
I’ve not failed to impart to her the correct and socially expected standards of acceptable behavior.
As I have said before in previous posts, my daughter knows right from wrong.
Yet when she gets in a rage, or a ‘meltdown’, all bets are off and she can and will do anything to express her anger.
So after having it suggested to me that she may have Asperger’s Syndrome, by the one and only health care professional who took me seriously, and that her ‘meltdowns’ may be occurring as a result of her increasing inability to cope with a world that she’s struggling to comprehend, I thought well, I already know those things about her.
And I undoubtedly agree that she probably does have AS, and I have already adapted many of the routines in our life to compensate for that,…. but,….. and here’s the big but,…… she can when she wants too, cope very well with social situations and she can, when she wants too, be very agreeable, happy and easy to get along with.
What she can’t seem to do is understand that other family members have rights and needs too. Especially if those rights and needs conflict with anything that she wants to do.
So I’ve been left asking myself just what is going on here?
Yes she may have AS but is she now so spoilt rotten because I’ve instinctively sought to compensate for that, that she’s suddenly forgotten how to misbehave whenever it suits her?
Have I been such a bad parent that I’ve taught her to abuse others whenever she can’t get her own way?
And does she even know any longer what her own way is because nothing and mean nothing calms her down once she’s exploded.
Her behavior has reached the point where the slightest things set her off and there’s absolutely no rhyme or reason to it at all.
I’ve lost the ability to predict or fore see where the time bombs are in her life.
I can’t defuse that which I cannot see.
Therefore, I can not stop her rages from occurring.
Nor can I bring her out of them.
Nothing it seems brings her out of her rage until she herself is ready to come out of it.
Any attempts to help her calm down once she’s in a rage are rejected and usually result in an escalation of her bad behavior.
I have quite literally being pulling my hair out trying to understand why she blows up at the drop of a hat and why once she’s up in the air, nothing can bring her back down.
Not even letting her have her own way with whatever it was that set her off in the first place will work.
This behavior has both scared and confused me.
Scared me because when she goes off she becomes incredibly violent.
Confused me because if it were just a matter of her wanting to always get her way, then why won’t giving her what she wants calm her down?
To me these things just did add up.
And then I read this post from http://bipolar-truth.com/2012/08/15/pathological-demand-avoidance-pda/ on Pathological Demand Avoidance and the pennies began to drop, and drop and drop.
“These children are said to resist the ordinary demands of life to a pathological degree using an abundance of tactics. They often have a Jekyll and Hyde type of personality with severe mood swings and can often exhibit severe behavioural difficulties. They may have a troubled educational history and the family may be in severe need of help and support.”
After reading this my jaw dropped, for this is exactly what I am seeing in my daughters odd set of behaviors.
One minute she’s my lovely girl, and she’s calmly and rationally, though sadly accepting her father’s impending marriage, the next minute she’s plotting to destroy him or blowing up at me over the loss of a her hair tie (of which we have a jar full, all the same size and all the same color).
And then I read the next part of the post;
“In contrast to most individuals with autism spectrum disorders, individuals with PDA appear to have an anxiety-led need to control, possessing superficial social skills and seem to have some but often significantly impaired theory of mind. They often engage in manipulative, domineering behaviour.”
Can you hear the sound of still more pennies dropping because for the first time, in a very long time, I think I finally can.
And then I read from yet another blog at http://islingtonhomeschoolmom.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/understanding-pathological-demand-avoidance-by-christie/ that;
“PDA is related to the autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), but varies significantly from most other syndromes on the spectrum. Unlike other ASD children those with PDA appear to understand emotions and communication…to the point of being manipulative.”
This was followed by the additional understanding that:
“These children do not recognize that they are children. And while they may fully understand the societal rules of behavior, they have difficulty applying those standards to themselves. Their deep need to control situations and their environment is born out of the intense anxiety that they experience when demands are placed upon them…even normal every day demands of life and school.”
Then from yet another wonderful blog http://alexcparsons.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/article-from-the-times-on-pda-extracted-from-pay-wall/I found the following information.
“Children with PDA essentially have an in-built need to be in control and to avoid other people’s demands and expectations, which raises their anxiety levels to an extreme extent…. They all shared an unusual resistance to everyday demands – even when related to things that they would enjoy. The children were superficially sociable but were often manipulative and lacked awareness of unwritten social rules. Their moods could switch very suddenly and they often confused reality and fantasy.”
Still more pennies were dropping and then I read this, written by a mother about her young daughter:
“She was totally dictating our lives – what I wore, if I could make a phone call, who could come round.”
For me this was the clincher, the thing that’s making me believe that PDA could be the answer, because these are the behaviors that my daughter regularly attempts to apply to me.
She’s even gone as far as taking away my phone and my hiding my car keys so that I can’t leave the house or call for help.
I know that to most people it sounds absurd that a child can create so much turmoil, especially a girl, especially a girl under the age of 13, but I’m telling you they can and I know now that I’m not the only parent experiencing this.
There is a term for it.
Pathological Demand Avoidance.
And I am not alone.
So thank you to each and every blogger out there whose posted on this topic and a special thank you in recognition and gratitude to those amazing bloggers whose words I’ve quoted.
You have all given me a much-needed source of information, hope and inspiration.