What is Positive PDA?
Positive PDA aims to provide a platform for discussion and resources to complement existing resources for Pathological Demand Avoidance. Our aim is to open a dialogue between professionals working with PDA profile autism, research, and families and individuals who live with PDA. We do this by running conferences, providing online summits and organising events to raise awareness of this specific profile and support those who need further information and resources. As we grow so will our directory of groups, communities and professionals, providing an ever expanding global network to positively impact PDA resources world wide.
At Positive PDA we aim to be fully inclusive, we are passionate about providing ease of access to resources to those who may not always find this so easy. Whether this is due to disability, geographical, political or socio-economic restrictions, we want to at least attempt to remove some of the barriers you may face when seeking information and access to professionals and resources. Through our events, we work to ensure that all communities, from all backgrounds, regardless of location or financial situation, have access to valuable and productive resources to enhances the lives of those living with PDA.
So… What Is Pathological Demand Avoidance?
PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance) is widely recognised as a profile on the autism spectrum. PDA individuals share characteristics with others on the spectrum but also have a distinct cluster of additional traits which focus around the avoidance of everyday demands and the use of ‘social’ strategies as part of this avoidance.
Whilst autism is a well-recognised term, our understanding of the full breadth and complexity of the autism spectrum is still evolving. The National Autistic Society explains autism as “a lifelong disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world”. Many autistic advocates embrace the social model of disability and view a range of neurological differences as being part of a natural human variation (neurodiversity).
Autism is dimensional, it involves a complex and overlapping pattern of strengths, differences and challenges that present differently from one individual to another; and in the same individual, over time or in different environments. A cluster of traits can be called a presentation or a profile – in some cases this can be quite different from what some people think autism ‘looks like’. Recognising these profiles signposts the approaches or support that will be most helpful for each individual. The approach required for PDA individuals can differ greatly from the approach that may be taken with other autistic profiles, and so it is beneficial for families, educators, social workers and practitioners to be able to recognise and understand the nuances of PDA.
Want To Join Us?
If you are interested in finding out more about Pathological Demand Avoidance and would like to receive notifications about our conferences and FREE online events, including the next international Positive PDA Virtual Summit, sign up to our monthly newsletter containing relevant advice and information.
VIRTUAL SUMMIT 2020
A Global Event
The first ever virtual summit focusing on Pathological Demand Avoidance was held online between the 3rd and 7th July 2020. It brought together a varied range of professionals and experts working within the autism community, to promote the awareness of Pathological Demand Avoidance, known as PDA. Over 5 days, we presented 20 webinars, bonus content and question and answer sessions to over 4000 people from 45 countries over 6 continents. And all completely FREE!
The Summit brought together of 20 hand selected, leading experts on PDA; including, a senior solicitor, consultant speech and language therapist, educational psychologist, behavioural nurse, leading educational consultants, SEN business and marketing consultant, teachers, researchers therapists, as well as PDA parents and individuals, all with knowledge and insight into this specific neurodivergent profile.
Covering topics including parenting, bereavement, emotional regulation, behavioural management, holistic therapies, education, speech and language and SEN law, our speakers shared their professional expertise gathered over many years of listening, learning and developing tried and tested solutions and strategies to the challenges faced by PDA individuals. Many of our speakers are neuro-divergent themselves, offering valuable insights into the minds of those amazing PDA people that we love so much. This summit provided so much knowledge to help parents, families and professionals better understand and manage PDA. We have been absolutely blown away by your feedback and can’t wait to bring you another free event, even bigger and better!
Free For Everyone, Everywhere
To ensure the Summit could reach, not just professionals during business hours, but those with PDA or trying to watch around the challenges of family members with PDA autism, the event was designed to be open and inclusive with flexible round the clock access, an incredible feat pulled off by a small team of amazing people. Presenting 5 speakers each day, available for 24 hours, allowed our audience to choose what and when they watched the speakers, reducing the demand of a set start time for our PDA viewers. As it turned out, our 24 hour event programming allowed our event to become a global success, did we mention we are so incredibly proud to have reached over 45 countries around the world! Initially intended to be a 4 day event that viewers could dip in and out of, our speakers presentations were so awesome that most people wanted to watch them all and ran out of time! In fact it was so incredibly popular that we created an additional “Encore” day!
We insisted from the very beginning that access to the event should not only be around the clock, but FREE to participate in. As with all things, there is information available on Pathological Demand Avoidance, but accessing the professionals can come at a great cost, in both terms of finance and accessibility. Over the course of this event we learned that there are many countries around the world where access to resources and information regarding not only PDA but also autism as a wider subject, is extremely limited. The dialogue created between those effected across the globe raised some incredibly poignant issues which we will be looking to address in our future events.
Want To Join The Positive PDA Global Community?
If you are on Facebook and would like to join our community of PDA families, professionals and individuals then come on over to our group now, it’s a safe space where everyone wishing to discover more about PDA is welcome.
Presentations At The Positive PDA Virtual Summit 2020
We want to thank all our amazing speakers who contributed their time and expertise and resources to this incredible event. We were able to help SO many people over the course of just 5 days. Discover more about our Virtual Summit 2020 speakers here, contact them and learn more about the resources they have that may be able to assist you, your family or your organisation.
Positive PDA Virtual Summit 2021
We are passionate about creating events where access is simple and free. Autism and PDA don’t just effect those located in countries where resources are available or those who have the financial ability to access them. Every person, every family, no matter where they are from in the world, what ever their background, or culture, or situation deserves to be able to receive support. Pathological Demand Avoidance is a condition that knows no boundaries. And so we won’t put any in place and will continue to provide free access to our online summits. We want to make every effort, within our capability, to better represent this condition globally. If you want to get in touch to tell us about resources available in tour local area, or you know someone in your country who is a PDA expert, please contact us on the form below so we can represent a more diverse picture of PDA.
Your support through buying passes and tickets to events will allow us to continue our mission to ensure we provide a FREE option for everyone to access information while we donate to PDA Society to support their resources and research.
Positive PDA Cardiff Conference
The FREE Summit took place online between 3rd – 7th July 2020. If you weren’t able to join us or want more information about the webinars that were included, you can discover find more below. If you were able to participate in the Summit and want to know more about the speakers you will find the links to their email and social media accounts below. The free event has finished, but if you want to watch the webinars, you can purchase a Back Pocket Pass which gives you unlimited access to watch all 21 presentations for up to one year and includes answers to FAQ from the speakers, bonus transcripts, print outs and materials you can use.
Join our mailing list here to ensure you don’t miss out on the latest events, news and offers from Positive PDA.
ABOUT POSITIVE PDA
Who Are We?
Positive PDA is a partnership comprised of two neurodivergent women, Nicola Reekie and Nicola “Louise” Jenkins, both with different experiences of PDA.
Nicola and Louise connected over their shared passion for helping people and raising awareness of neurodivergent issues. Despite always knowing they would work together someday, it wasn’t until several years later, a pandemic and a national lockdown, that the vision of Positive PDA, imagined by Nicola was realised by combining their individual skill sets. Together they have found that no matter one’s diagnosis, with determination and the right support, anything is achievable… even a global summit!
I’m Nicola Reekie, a solution focused therapist and mum to two neurodiverse boys. Growing up and not understanding my struggles is what drives my passion of raising awareness around neurodiversity; it wasn’t until my 20’s that I was diagnosed as dyslexic and dyspraxic, which gave me the educational diagnosis I had always needed and now gives me a better understanding of myself.
I’m passionate about spreading the awareness of Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), that’s why I began speaking at Autism Shows around the UK. Keen to raise awareness I created the PDA Conference in Cardiff, featuring a few of our lovely speakers, scheduled for April 2020… Then the pandemic came along and postponing was enforced. But what soon became obvious was that awareness and resources were even more necessary; more needed to be made available to MANY that were facing the extra challanges lockdown brought.
A serendipitous encounter with Louise led to the conversation of taking my Cardiff Conference online. Our skills combined, our passion roused, and our ambition amplified. Before long the vision of the online conference I had, evolved and developed and became the first Positive PDA Virtual Summit!
All of a sudden I was reaching far beyond Cardiff, with people from 44 countries across 6 continents registering! My goal to create knowledge, attainable resources and expert insight that is accessible to EVERYONE came to be.
Hello, I’m Louise, a project manager in the exhibition, conferencing and events industry. For the past 7 years I have also run my own branding and digital marketing company part time.
It wasn’t until the age of 35 that I had an assessment for autism. I identify strongly with the PDA profile and believe that the lack of awareness of Pathological Demand Avoidance is why I spent so many years struggling, having had many mental health misdiagnoses and facing difficulties with anxiety over the demands of every day life, fitting in with social normalities and making real connections with others.
However, I was determined that a diagnosis wasn’t going to destroy my ambition or dampen my drive! An avid campaigner of increasing public understanding of mental health, learning of my own neurodivergence only ignited my desire to challenge the misconceptions of what autism “looks like” and to learn more about what this wide spectrum of autism entails.
A chance encounter with Nicola earlier this year and a long conversation later, I found myself immersed in the challenge of making Nicola’s vision of turning a cancelled conference into an online summit become a reality. Nicola’s unwavering support and understanding of the challenges I faced personally enabled us to become the empowered duo we have become and I’m so proud to have helped bring awareness and resources to so many others around the world through our first summit and am excited to provide an even bigger and wider platform for the PDA community!
Supporting The PDA Society
Positive PDA fully support the work, research and resources provided by the PDA Society. We would like to thank them for their support and contribution to our event, in particular Sally Russell, Katie Mabberley, Vikki Threlfall, Paula Webb, Debra West and Hilary Harvey.
The organisation is a registered charity in England and Wales providing information, support and training for those living and working with PDA. Run by a group of volunteers, they work tirelessly to raise awareness, increase acceptance and empower people to take action in relation to PDA. You can find out more about the PDA Society including a links to their extensive resources on their page here.
From proceeds raised by the sales of our Back Pocket Pass we are really pleased to announce that we have already made a donation of £3000 to the PDA Society. We know that they will be able to use this to continue to empower even more people to take action in relation to Pathological Demand Avoidance.
Did you know you can also nominate the PDA Society on Amazon Smile so that you make a donation every time you shop on Amazon at no extra cost to you? Neither did we! So nominate the PDA Society now and give each time you shop!
Resources From The PDA Society
Connect With The PDA Society
Questions about Positive PDA? Please don’t hesitate to contact us!
We really want to hear from you!
If you are working with autism in a professional environment and have resources or research that you would like to to include or would like to speak at one of our future events please let us know. Maybe you work in the education sector and there is a particular issue you would like addressed regarding supporting PDA, if so we will try and accommodate this in our future summits. Or perhaps you are an individual or parent that has information about groups, charities or resources in your area that have been particularly helpful, please let us know so that we can share their details to the wider community. And if you are a charity or community organisation who would like to work with us please drop us a message and say hello and let’s talk!