If you have followed me for the past few years, or have read through my blog posts to get a feel for my my views around PDA, you will know that my number one message above all things is that the more tuned and in love with ourselves as parents to PDA children we are, the better we can find harmony with our kids.
Kristy has opened a conversation around the meaning behind and the use of the word ‘strategies’ when talking about how to engage with children of PDA. I think she is right, it can feel a like one sided word and it could feel like a plan or a sneaky way to still get some kind of compliance from a PDA child.
Back in the day, when we first received our shocking and really, unexpected diagnosis of ‘PDA as part of the autism spectrum’ here in New Zealand by a Doctor who herself was autistic, I ran to my computer like a frighted alien who had just landed in another galaxy. I had never heard of PDA. My biggest fear, that really did consume me was, ‘have I been doing this whole parenting thing so wrong all this time and if so, have I added to my daughters distress?’. The conclusion I came to back then was yes, I was getting it so very wrong and I needed to completely change. It was then that I found a list of ‘strategies’ online and I set about, right away, changing the way I spoke and parented.
It wasn’t long before I started to become self aware and on mission for self improvement and an authentic connection with my daughter, who, days after receiving the diagnosis, fell into a total mental breakdown and sudden onset of severe, severe germ OCD, rendering her unable to leave her room for 5 months and lost to us all. I knew that this was no ordinary thing and something extra ordinary was the only thing that was going to pull us back to health.
I began to look at the frame work for PDA parenting advice and hence, my blog began. The only name fitting for my blog was lovepda, because then and there I knew that love was the connector we both needed and that was what the strategies were really all about.
When I decided to compile a document of the strategies, to make sense of it all myself and to reach out to others who followed behind me in their discoveries, I entitled the series of posts ‘PDA strategies, or ways of being’. The word strategy didn’t sit well with me either, but it did explain ideas and ways to change language to become less threatening to my child, who had always fought against authority in a most extra ordinary way. She needed me to hear her. She needed me to be on her side. The strategies were the stepping stones I needed to bridge the gap between us.
If we are to change as neuro typically minded parents of non typically minded children, we have to make this a ‘way of being’. Through and through. Not, a plan to follow and a fake it till you make it, a 2 sided game, but a complete overhaul as to who we really are and what life is really all about.
So yes, the word strategy does give a good starting point to new parents, and perhaps, it was coined in the earlier days when there was very little information on PDA. We forget sometimes that information streaming and sharing is getting faster and fast. The 4 years that I have been PDA aware, I have seen huge change, huge exchange and, let’s face it, a few PDA celebs that are up and coming, folks for us to look up to and guide us. I know that when some parents find themselves in this new and uncharted water, they just want to find ways to connect with their kids, and having some tried and tested skills that others have learnt to live be really do help. Having others who can tell them what to do is often what parents need. But we are ever developing with this and I do think it’s fair to say that the word strategy feels disconnected, trainer like, unequal, them and us. What is needed is confidence, self permission, finding our own ways and listening to our children.
I still feel that the essence of any ‘PDA education’ should really be on self development as a person first and foremost so that we may be as true and real and open and loving as we can possibly be. This is life and it will never end, there is no finish post to say, there you go, you have it all wrapped up, you have the tools, off you go. It is an ever evolving, respectful journey which, as I’ve always said, will be the huge shift that the world needs to see.
So, in summery, strategies, in my opinion, were created to gain connection, not control, however, if the ultimate aim is to help compliance at the desire of the parent, then there is a controlling element and that should be a healthy conversation in the development of PDA.
What I have learned on my journey (with in mind that I grew up with PDA in my family but didn’t know it at the time) is that being authentic, with equality, truth, respect and love is really what this whole shift is all about. No if’s, no buts, no lies, no maybes.
Enjoying watching the growth of the PDA community very much. With love from lovepda. x