Thursday, 13 June 2013

Superimposing a PDA Child On "Normality"!

I have a photograph of Isaac that embodies my PDA childs' struggle with life. It was taken when he was 4 years old at the play group he used to attend 2 mornings a week. They had individual photos taken which eventually after a lot of effort he let them do but that was enough, there was no way he was going to join the group shot. When the pictures came back the photographer had superimposed his individual shot onto the group picture to make it look like he was there. Looking carefully you could see that he was ever so slightly out of proportion, making him appear a little larger than the rest of the children. They tried to make him normal but no matter what he didn't quite fit. This is also what happened with his mainstream education, they tried to get him to fit into "normal schooling" but he didnt fit. He was superimposed onto his education, he wasnt an active part. Not suprising it failed, efforts were made to put coping stratergies in place but they were all efforts to make him fit the normal, to support him in the normal. It was only with time i realised he needed the "different" for him to stand any chance of being him. The true him with all his behaviours, only then would he stand any chance of developing himself.
Isaac was at home, out of school for 6 months. I had joined home educating groups on facebook and became interested in what they called "deschooling". They describe it as the period where the home educated child lets go and adjusts from school life and becomes ready to engage in their new style of education. As a rough guide they say one month for every year the child has been in school does it take to shed the skin. I was intitially quite dismissive of  this but then I saw it in action. I saw how the reduction in demands and pressure, how the release of routine did more for Isaac's personal development than a year of school. I did not intend for him to be out of school for this period and at the time I worried significantly about his lack of education but I can now conclude it was the best thing that could have happened.
Isaac is now slowly reintergrating into a highly individualised school setting. His school life is being tailored to him, not him to the school life. I want him to live his school life not survive it.
I am now very aware that I will not let Isaac be superimposed on his life again. Its his life and he deserves to live it.


  1. Lovely to hear you've now found the right place for him. You're right, all our children need is some individual care, not the cattle prod kind of idea. Hope I can find a suitable school for my girl!

  2. Its the right place for now, not sure about the future though. There are so few "right" schools for children with PDA characteristics that finding a place is really difficult. He is in a small independant school that is out of area and I won't even start on the fight we had with the LEA to get him placed! Keep looking Steph!