Preventing school exclusion: a case study of a primary aged autistic child with ADHD and a PDA profile

By Catrina Lyle and Heather Leatherland

Catrina Lyle is an advisory teacher within the Communication and Interaction team and Heather Leatherland is a mainstream primary school teacher. In this paper, they describe the work they did over a two year period with a 7 year old boy (Jack) who had had two fixed term exclusions from his mainstream primary school. He was initially diagnosed with autism and ADHD but did not respond to strategies often used with
autistic children. Further assessment by the staff, his mother and the paediatrician suggested that he fitted the profile of a child with PDA or EDA (Extreme Demand Avoidant).

The staff received training on how to understand and support Jack and a detailed plan was drawn up which was regularly reviewed and modified, as needed. With a different view of his issues and the use of strategies recommended for children with PDA, Jack started to access the curriculum more readily and the challenges he presented to staff and peers reduced considerably. The paper illustrates just how important it is, irrespective of the diagnostic label(s), to understand the child’s view of school and its demands, and to evaluate the approaches taken on a regular basis, in particular observing and respecting the child’s response to these.

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