Today I have brought my boys home and I am bursting with pride (and relief). You'd think PDA boy had won a Nobel prize of some sort, when in fact my pride is for a very weird reason.
PDA boy has started to show clear signs of demand avoidance in school. (See, I told you it was a weird reason!)
Actually, thinking about it, the last time I felt pride like this was when my daughter moved school in year 2, she went from being a silent little mouse to a complete chatterbox. When my husband and I were told that she talked too much in class, we were quite teary in our pride that she was finally talking in school!
Since PDA boy did his SATs, he has avoided work as much as possible. He will do this by cleverly distracting his teacher, using humour, as well as a more obvious plain refusal to work (in fact I only learnt this week that during his SATs maths exam, he closed the paper and refused to finish it).
In the last couple of weeks, the signs of avoidance have been much clearer. He has started pacing round the room. He is avoiding all academic work and needing more support.
This week at one point, he stood up, shouted "Abracadabra" and got under a table, where he stayed for half an hour.
A welcome side effect of this more obvious demand avoidance has been a more settled boy at home, sure we've had outbursts, but he is taking himself upstairs to play on his Xbox and give himself a chance to wind down after a day, we haven't had the need for 100% supervision that we do when his mask is more firmly in place.
I don't know if pride is a normal reaction for this behaviour, but I'm so proud that he finally feels he can show how he's feeling, and I'm relieved that he's not swearing and punching in school, as that would open up a whole new set of challenges.
In the last few weeks, I feel that PDA boy has really started to come to terms with his diagnosis, and he's talking about it more openly to certain people, and is starting to understand that there are things he can do to help himself feel happier or less overwhelmed. Whether this is a sign of growing maturity, or that he simply needed time to get his head around things, I have no idea, but we are welcoming this phase with open arms.
For so long, fitting in and appearing neurotypical has been PDA boy's priority. Even though this leaves him feeling exhausted, angry and, at times, suicidal, he has put most of his effort into being like every other child in his class.
I truly hope that this new openness continues when he starts secondary school in September, as I feel this will be his big chance to receive the support he so desperately needs.
As he prepares to leave primary school and start this new adventure, I'm finally starting to feel cautiously optimistic about PDA boy's education. Long may it last!