As she asked to print more pictures to color after yesterday’s batch for the ride to the amusement park tomorrow, she originally said 1-3. Then she said it might be 4. Later on when she started to actually look them up, I specified no more than 4. As I said it, I knew she would ask for more. Because I know my daughter has Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) in addition to her extremely high functioning Asperger’s Autism. Sure enough, within 5 minutes she said, it might be more like 5, and I said gently, no, I said no more than 4. I had already let her increase the 1-3 up to 4. Even though PDA is currently only recognized in the UK, it is starting to gain more clout in the US. She is not officially diagnosed with this, but I know without a shadow of a doubt she has it. She is officially diagnosed by her pediatrician with Asperger’s Autism. Technically, it is now Autism Level 1. Asperger’s is now an archaic term since they released the DSM-5. All Autism diagnoses are just a spectrum and divided in to 3 levels. Level 1 is High Functioning which is where those who would have formerly been diagnosed as Asperger’s are now placed. I personally still prefer the term Asperger’s and continue to use it.
Giving children sentences with multiple directions to follow is an actual developmental milestone. It is one for the age of 3 year olds. But children with PDA are overwhelmed by demands that are thrown at them at the same time. Any instruction is processed as a demand, and thus, this developmental milestone becomes a hotbed for attitude because it puts these children in a pressure cooker. Today when I told my 10 year old that it was time to take a shower, and then followed that up with the sentence of to make sure she also cleans up the mess she had left downstairs from her homework, she answers with an attitude how she knows she knows…When her father comes down, all of her stuff is in front of his seat and he comments how he sees a tornado passed through. I told him how I told her to do that part after I told her to take the shower so of course she has to do them in order. But when she comes down the stairs, for how much attitude I get the “I know, I know” when I remind her earlier of cleaning the homework mess up, do you think she goes right to cleaning that up? Of course she doesn’t. She tries to avoid that demand altogether. She goes right in to the other room to color and begin making another mess in there. It’s a never ending battle. And I know in many ways this sounds like typical child behavior, but it’s the constant attitude that I get when I ask daily for the simple task of her to clean up after herself. You would think I was asking her to move a mountain. You would think I had never made her clean up after herself before. You would think I had never held her accountable for herself before the way she speaks to me when I ask her for a simple request. And that, my friends, is definitely not a typical 10 year old.
Still, at 10 years old, even with no wait at a restaurant, she has no patience. When we are done with our meal, she wants to leave so badly and is so bored that she is blowing bubbles in her water and playing with it like a 3 year old. Before we were ready to leave, because she was ready to go (as in, showered, dressed etc, far enough in advance) she wanted to leave 15 minutes earlier just so we could get to the parking lot and wait, just because she didn’t want to wait any longer at home (which is honestly a better place for her to wait where all of her stuff is to occupy her). But the idea of waiting in any way is torturous to her.
I have definitely learned to allow a few minutes of leeway whenever I need her to be ready to do something or go somewhere because when I give her a warning or tell her it’s time to go to bed, or to stop what she’s doing because it’s time to go, I often get told to wait till she’s done with this game or this video or this episode etc….And I know that if I don’t, she will have a fit. And while I understand that children need to know how to not get their way, this is a little different because if it is a real time constraint and I can explain to her a real reason as to why she must stop right then and there, I’d rather save those demand times for important times when it is absolutely necessary and have her cooperative on those days rather than force her compliance every single time.
Many people disagree with the way it is recommended to parent children with Asperger’s and PDA. But I know for a fact that the old school hard knocks version of parenting was NOT working with mine. And although mine can still be a handful at times, I think all in all she has done much better, and I think the times she is at her worst is also when we are and that we need to remain calm and model for her the way we want her to act in a situations so she can learn by example. It just makes more logical sense than to instill the fear of God in her with something like spanking. That just teaches her that when our level.of frustration rises that it’s ok to hit and that’s not the proper message to send her. Just my personal opinion.