10 things not to say about PDA

It’s not easy to pluck up the courage to explain you or your loved ones condition to another person, especially when that condition is rare, slightly controversial and largely misunderstood by society. So when those people then come out with comments which are rude, stereotypical, offensive or just plain wrong, it makes it that much harder to explain the difficulties that condition brings. It would be so much easier if people were willing to read up on things they know little about before making comments based in ignorance. With that in mind, here are 10 things not to say about PDA:

  1. “PDA is just another way of saying ODD, isn’t it?” – No, it’s not. PDA is very different to ODD for many reasons, and while the behaviours you see might seem similar there are markedly different reasons why the two are different. Here’s a good list if you’re unsure.
  2. “It’s just an excuse for kids who don’t want to do as they’re told” – How insulting! There’s nothing worse than wanting badly to do something but being unable to do it because of the way your brain works, than having someone insinuate that it’s because you simply don’t want to do it. It just shows that person’s ignorance and lack of consideration for things they have no experience of.
  3. “People get diagnosed with all sorts these days!” – You’ve obviously never tried to get a PDA diagnosis then! Diagnosis’s aren’t just handed out like sweets to anyone who turns up, it takes months of waiting for appointments, hours of completing forms, numerous professionals wanting to dig into the most private parts of your life, more waiting, continually being met with disbelief, criticism, intense scrutiny of your parenting and sometimes open hostility. It’s not a process to be entered into lightly and you’re lucky if you come out the otherside with an accurate diagnosis at all.
  4. “It’s just a made up condition” – As opposed to all those naturally grown conditions? PDA isn’t just something a random person decided should be a ‘thing’ and then spread around in the vain hope it would ‘catch’. There was much research and observation done by a fully qualified and experienced professional.
  5. “It’s an American thing, we don’t recognise it here in the UK” – You’ve got to laugh at the sheer ignorance of this one. How to fully discredit yourself by exclaiming that it’s an American ‘thing’ when it was discovered in Nottinghamshire. Either buy a map or keep quiet. (Also, slow clap for the negative stereotyping).
  6. “You managed fine doing (insert task) yesterday so why can’t you do it today?” – The thing about PDA is that it’s predictably unpredictable. We ourselves never know what we will be able to do and what we can’t do on any given day. Some days we can manage a task fine then boom! the next it’s too hard and we just can’t. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, it just is. It’s our normal. Just because we can do something once doesn’t mean we can do it all the time, so don’t expect us to be able to.
  7. “Why can’t you just behave?” – Demands. They’re everywhere. Even when we know how to act and ‘behave’ it doesn’t mean we can. We can’t help won’t. Behaving how you want us to, how society expects us to, there are so many demands in that alone (sit still, don’t speak, don’t fidget, speak nicely, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, eat quietly, be polite, stand correctly, etc, etc), is it any wonder we, who cannot even do what we tell ourselves to do, struggle with this.
  8. “Have you tried being strict” – No we just let our kids do whatever they please all the time, of course we’ve tried being strict, we’ve probably tried every single thing you can think of and then some. The fact is, the PDA brain simply doesn’t work the same as everyone else’s, being strict won’t get PDA people to do what you want them to do, most likely it will do the opposite. Being strict isn’t the answer to everything. ‘Can’t help won’t’, no amount of strictness will help.
  9. “You could if you really wanted to” – Oh trust me, we really, really want to. But if it were a case of simply wanting to do something that would make us PDAers suddenly able to comply then we wouldn’t be here discussing PDA at all. No amount of wanting will force our brains to let us, in fact, the more we want to do something the harder it is to do it.
  10. “Have you tried (insert parenting advice no one asked for/treatment which has been tried and deemed utterly useless many times/strategy that works for NT people which will probably have the opposite effect)” – Nope! Again we just let our PDA loved ones run around doing whatever the hell they like while we sit back and bemoan the lack of ‘discipline’. Trust us, if you can think of it then we’ve probably tried it. PDA is a neurological difference, no amount of parenting classes, treatment options, behavioural therapies, reward/punishment techniques will work. We use PDA strategies for a reason, because they work for PDA. Everything else will only have short term benefits if they work at all, and many have the opposite effect.

7 thoughts on “10 things not to say about PDA”

  1. Wow, thanks so much for this! I relate so much to particularly #6. Yes, I can do some things one day and not the next, and I can do seemingly complicated things but not simple things. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be able to do everythng you or society or whoever/whatever demands of me.

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