The PDA Society are ready to support you through


All the PDA info and support in one location


Who we are
The PDA Society’s management committee is made up of a group of volunteers, all parents of a child with PDA.Margo Duncan

National Co-ordinator, support, writing articles, conferences.
Hi I am Margo, mum to a child with PDA and a younger neurotypical child. I live in Sheffield and am a GP. I myself joined this group as a desperate parent in 2007 seeking information on how to parent my apparently unique and not-so-typically developing child. I gained so much support from the people on here after years of struggling that I wanted to give something back.

I took over the role of National Coordinator in 2008. This has consisted of speaking to many parents on the phone and dealing with lots of email enquiries via the website/forum and writing and distributing leaflets on PDA. I have collaborated with Phil Christie, Ruth Fidler and another parent Zara Healey to write the book “Understanding Pathological Demand Avoidance in Children” on JKPublishing. I also co-wrote the ‘What is PDA?’ on the NAS website with Phil after speaking to Lorna Wing on the telephone asking the NAS to put something more substantial on their site about PDA. I have spoken as a parent at the National Autistic Conferences on PDA from the parent perspective and I have written several articles for the NAS and SEN magazines on PDA.

I was pleased we received Big Lottery funding to develop the website as I feel things have come a long way despite there just being a handful of parents with jobs and children filling their (not so) spare time running the group. I am proud of what the group has achieved so far but I am conscious that more needs to be done in spreading awareness and giving out information on PDA. Because PDA is not yet in the diagnostic manuals we have a situation where some people in one area may be getting a diagnosis and some in another area may not. This has to change as these are desperate children with desperate parents and I know from experience just how much the diagnosis helped our family. Without it we would not have been able to use the strategies which helped, schools would have had nothing to work on and I cannot imagine what kind of a situation we would be in now without it. I want to change that for as many families as possible in the future.

Debra West
Social media relations, conferences.
I am married with two children. My eldest son has a diagnosis of PDA, and the youngest is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I am an active volunteer with my local National Autistic Society Branch; who also offer support to local families living with PDA and other autism spectrum conditions. I am currently completing my final year of a dual award degree in Learning Disability Nursing and (generic) Social Work at Sheffield Hallam University. I have previously worked in research and development roles within the steel industry, but became interested in a career involving supporting families because of my own experiences with my children. I have worked in a number of voluntary roles other than my role within my NAS branch; for example as a Home Start volunteer, helping in my children’s school, and also working with the Family Support team at a local Children’s Centre. I have completed courses in counselling, working with parents, preparing to teach in the lifelong learning sector, helping in schools and helping children with special educational needs in schools.

I have presented at two NORSACA conferences relating to PDA, to give an insight into being a parent of a child with PDA. I have also attended a number of conferences and workshops relating to PDA, autism, behaviour support and mental health. I have a dream to work in an autism team who offer support to children, young people and their families from the start of the diagnostic process to adulthood; to give people with autism spectrum conditions (including PDA) the greatest chance to achieve their full potential; and to give families the support they need to remain as a strong and united unit.

Paula Webb
Support, education advice, training.
Hello, I am married to Chris, an Accountant, and we have three children. Our daughter is the oldest, she has now left home and is a Primary School Teacher. Our two sons are on the Autistic Spectrum. Our eldest son is 23, has Asperger’s Syndrome, and lives and works at home. Our youngest son is 19 and has PDA and Autism. He was in mainstream school until 8 years old, tried a couple of Special Schools in Nottingham and is now in a Residential College in South Yorkshire.

I have always done voluntary work but also had a few part-time jobs over the last twenty years whilst raising our three children. I have worked for The National Autistic Society, Notts County Council Home Care Team, Rushcliffe Parents Autism Support Group and latterly for a Charity called The Maze, which supports parents to achieve good outcomes for their Disabled and Special Needs Children.

I have been on many courses including Special Educational Needs and the Law, Social Care and the Law, Supporting Learners with ASD, Positive Handling, Challenging Behaviour etc. I have been to 5 PDA Conferences, I have been a member of The PDA Contact Group for ten years and I am a member of The PDA Society Committee.

I am very passionate about helping parents to care for their children, so that they can achieve their true potential.

Neville Starnes
Support, YouTube videos, newsletters.
I am married to Chrissie and between us we have two sons. Our youngest was diagnosed with atypical autism and PDA in 2009, aged 10. I am a science graduate and have spent most of my life working for companies allied to the construction industry. For a number of years I ran my own successful business, but this became unsustainable as our son’s needs increased dramatically and he experienced a number of placement failures. To preserve my own health and better support our son, I became a full-time carer. In this role I have been a home educator and spent many months providing full time support for my son in his current special school.

I am one of the newer recruits to the committee and consider myself a ‘jack of all trades’ and have an interest in all areas of our work . Outside of my committee role, I provide support to parents and some background information to professionals. I have also produced a number of PDA related videos on YouTube.

Rebecca Thorpe
Member administration, web site maintenance.
I am mum to two children, a girl and a boy. Our daughter received a diagnosis of PDA just after her fourth birthday in 2010. I feel that having her diagnosis before starting school has been of great benefit to her and us as a family, and appreciate that we were very fortunate to be in that position. It saddens me to hear so many stories of failed school placements, accusations of poor parenting and the struggle many families face to get a diagnosis of PDA for their children.

I met Margo at a Sheffield support group meeting, and was keen to get involved to help families looking to find out more about PDA. My background is in marketing and communications, and I was very excited to co-ordinate the production of this web site. I hope families and professionals alike find our web site a useful source of information about PDA, and look forward to helping raise awareness of PDA in the years to come.


2 thoughts on “The PDA Society are ready to support you through

  1. Elizabeth Chadwick

    Hello. I am absolutely convinced that my 10 year old has PDA. I didn’t have a name for ‘it’ until recently. I am under confident about seeing GP again because everyone tells me that Louis is ‘fine’. At school he was a model pupil but before and after school he was emotional, demanding, exhausted, fearful and basically had meltdowns nearly every day so we have taken him out. The school say its an act all for my benefit because he hates going. I can’t list everything here because it’s late but thank you for this site. Louis has been to CAMHS and they said his behaviour was a parenting issue (Due to inconsistencies). He was charm personified innthe interview but exploded after because he is sick of grown ups asking him questions. I’ve been put on a parenting course to learn about boundaries! I was doing these courses when he was 3 and 4 I was so desperate! My 13 year old daughter doesn’t have same issues but they’re both extremely sensitive to sounds / touch and visual stuff. Can you advise me on anything? Do I just keep trying for another referral? Kind regards, Libby Chadwick.

  2. Hi Libby, Thank you for your comment, Im sorry to say that your story is a common one; mums not being listened to; mums being blamed for their childs behaviours; schools not understanding; inappropriate and unprofessional behaviours from CAMHS and the list goes on. But take from this that you are not alone and our strength in numbers is growing. We may have to take on the system, but also, they have to take on the lioness who protects her cubs… I will contact you by email personally.

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