I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I enjoyed this book. This book written by Ruth Fidler and Phil Christie is a great addition to the PDA library. It’s aimed at children aged 7+ and is written from the perspective of Issy, who is 11 years old and has PDA. Not only could I relate to just about everything that the character of Issy talked about but I also found it much more user-friendly than other “medical” books on ASDs. I have an appalling concentration span but I had no problem with this book. It was nice to not only read a book that was factually correct but also portrayed PDA in such a positive light. The more of us there are out there spreading the word the better! 😊
Like I’ve already said, most of the book “rang true” with me but I do want to focus on a few bits that I think are important to share with you all. I shall do it in page order so I can keep track (the notes I’ve made whilst reading are a bit messy!)
On page 25 Issy talks about some of the excuses that she uses when trying to avoid doing things. They all rang true with me but the ones that stood out for me were the ones that I still use now! (or variations of). Namely, “the cat doesn’t like it when I tidy my bedroom” and “I have just painted my nails and I don’t want to chip them” 😜 These are things I say quite often. Lol. I often just say them to myself. I won’t vacuum if the cats are asleep so I don’t wake them and newly painted nails is my excuse for a lot of things! Lol. Another that stood out for me was, “I read that if you don’t wash my hair for long enough, it will clean itself” – as a teen I once went 6 weeks without washing it because I’d heard the same thing. Sadly it didn’t work! Also on page 25 Issy talks about how when she is asked to do something she “…gets totally focused on not doing that thing”. For me it’s exactly the same. Some days when the demand on me is too great I quite literally can’t get past that and the avoidance takes over the whole day.
On page 30 Issy writes, “…I don’t like routines to get boring but I do like to know what to expect. I like it when my day is explained so I’m prepared for any changes or choices in that day”. This I can completely relate to. Routines bore the hell out of me and do in fact hinder rather than help me. I find that something too structured actually increases my anxiety and becomes too much of a demand. Nothing in my routine is ever set in stone. Flexibility is definitely the keyword here.
On page 32 Issy talks about how she manages her schoolwork and the fact that she has an “on pause” folder for work that she is unable to complete at that moment in time. Boy oh boy! My whole life is an “on pause’ folder! Lol. It would be quicker and easier for me to list what I haven’t started yet than it would for me to list the currently underway stuff! 😜 Like Issy I too find it easier to be able to dip in and out of projects etc rather than feeling forced to do it all in one go. I often write a bit of blog, reply to emails, carry out my admin duties, do some knitting and then repeat. It helps keep the pressure off a bit but things still get done…….eventually in some cases! Lol. I’m not one for sustained spells of concentration either so it’s a win-win situation for me.
On page 34/35 Issy talks about how important it is to her to “…be around people who make me feel safe and understand me. I call these people my shields.” This really rings true for me. I’ve referred in the past to Paul being like my “portable bubble/safety blanket.” It seems that similar can be said for Issy. For me situations that I would normally find overwhelming or impossible are more manageable with Paul by my side. I’m also not as scared to try new things when he’s with me. He really has helped me to open up my world just a little bit more and “live a little”. It’s not just Paul that facilitates this for me but a multitude of different people, just like it is for Issy. I’ve also, with age and a lot of practice, learn to do this for myself if needs be.
I know I’ve touched upon this subject in other posts but I felt it was too important not to mention again. On page 36/37 Issy explains how praise makes her very uncomfortable. This seems to be very common amongst us folk with PDA. For me it’s not only a self-esteem issue but it’s also the implied demand to be able to do the same thing, just as well, every time which for me, and others with PDA, is, at times, unachievable.
On pages 38/39 Izzy describes her sensory issues and I want to share with you all one thing I’ve found extremely helpful when I’m in a smelly place, such as a hospital or airport, and that’s to carry with me a small scented candle that I don’t light but I do sniff it. It helps block out the nasty smells and helps to focus my thoughts a bit more so I’m able to stay in control. It’s not only useful for smelly situations but also for anywhere where my anxieties are up and I need to stay in control and be “normal”.
On page 42 Issy talks about how meltdowns make her feel but what stood out for me most all was “…sometimes my family or my teachers say they feel like I’ve over-reacted to them when I have a problem doing what they ask me. They find it hard to accept that there some days I just can’t. These are not good days and the more they ask me, the more I get stuck…” I can relate so much to this. So much so I shed a little tear whilst reading it. Sometimes it’s like that for me. For me though I think a lot of the pressure I feel is also self-imposed because I know that’s how they felt last time so I assume it’s the same the next, which of course isn’t necessarily the case. This can, and does, cause me a lot of problems.
From page 44 onwards are some extremely useful and insightful strategies for managing someone with PDA. Again, like Issy’s part, it’s clear and easy to read and in PDA/ADHD-friendly bitesized bits. 😊 It strange to read about strategies for basically managing myself but it’s also extremely interesting. It helps me to understand why I do what I do and why those, in the know, around me do certain things.
The authors, Ruth Fidler and Phil Christie, are both experts in their field as far as I’m concerned. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with them. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge that we can all benefit from. All in all this little book was a delight to read. It’s both informative and simple. Its perfect for explaining PDA to your child with PDA and their siblings/friends but it’s also great for adults too.
You can order your copy HERE
Thanks for reading. 💜