Tuesday, 17 January 2017

A low point, and more thoughts about masking.

PDA boy is unable to go into school again today. Whilst this is only day three of refusal this term, I am very worried about it and how we fix this.

PDA boy finds it very difficult to pinpoint what it is about school. Things are fine with friends. He hates most teachers, because they tell him off all the time - mostly because he's talking too much (avoidance tactic of choice), and he seems to have little understanding or control over this. This morning we had an angry moment about the corridors at school, but got no further with this particular train of thought.

I have noticed there is a little bit of improvement regarding self-advocacy. With two people he is able to be quite honest about how he feels about school (hates it) and that he'd rather not be there. However, this small amount of honesty has somewhat backfired as these two people now expect everything that PDA boy speaks to be entirely truthful, when it's not. Masking is still taking over most of the time.

When PDA boy is in meetings, he has a habit of latching onto what people are saying and keenly agreeing with them, so in the last meeting, when someone talked about low energy levels and how tired he must feel, he agreed, when in reality low energy levels are rarely a problem, in fact it's the opposite which is the issue. Whenever PDA boy feels anything, an emotion, or he has a need (he's too hot, he's hungry) he will outwardly show too much energy, he will be positively hyperactive, although he does try to contain this in school, I highly suspect that this explains the frequent chatting, rudeness and giddiness. PDA boy also went on to agree to use a visual aid to help share how he's feeling with a specific person, once home the first thing he said to me was that he wouldn't be doing it - having appeared eager to try it.

My position is difficult in this. In the past I have been quick to share feedback, but this approach was steering me towards trouble, because he will only be honest with his safe people (me and my husband), and revert to masking like a pro with others, this reinforces others' opinions that we are the problem.

PDA boy will give every impression that a new strategy will work, and that he is keen, no, excited to try it, not because he is, but because he is astute enough to know that this is what people want to hear, much like answering "fine" when asked how you are (although I rather stuffed that up this morning and sobbed at a poor woman I barely know. And I blew a snot bubble which in certain situations I'd have been quite proud of, but this morning it just added to the "oh god, what am I doing!"). PDA boy also knows that realistically, there's not very much that can be done. Just being in school is difficult, any intervention will be the equivalent of putting a tiny plaster on a gaping wound, and is unlikely to solve the problem, being PDA, the issues are a little more complex than a need for routine, which is something school can offer. Every lesson is difficult because PDA boy is being told what to do, this is school, this is to be expected, and managing the situation in a mainstream school is looking increasingly complicated and unlikely.

And here's where my low point comes into play.
My gut instinct tells me that PDA boy should be home educated. He would thrive with days spent doing bush craft, making fires, whittling sticks, shifting pig poo from one place to another, using his energy in ways that make him feel fulfilled and calmer.

But.....I don't think I can do it. PDA boy is an extrovert. He likes being with people, likes being busy. I am an introvert, a low-energy introvert, the strain of the last few years have meant I need regular periods of time alone in silence in order to manage the rest of life.
Whilst my needs do not trump PDA boy's, I do need to take into account my own needs, because I will need to be able to keep up with him at his extrovert, high-energy pace. This makes me feel more guilty than I can say. I know how much I am letting him down by persevering with school, by hoping that things work out.

It is an area I will think about though, see if I can come up with some solutions that might work for the family, but in the meantime managing the anxious outbursts means that very little else is done in the PDA household, the need for constant supervision is all-encompassing, and my already shaky mental health is threatening to erupt in more of an earthquake than a tremor, and balancing everyone's needs has become a near-impossible task, so something needs to change.


  1. You could be talking about my household in so many of your log entries! Both my children say 'the right thing' to professionals and can only be honest at home. Been there this very morning... And the homeschool dilemmas - ring true for me too! Feeling for you!

    1. It's always good to know that whatever you're going through, there's always someone else going through it too.
      Hopefully we can get to a point where our children will be confident enough to say what they feel!