PDA Panda – our ambassador

We chose the panda to be our ambassador because, just like giant pandas, individuals with a PDA profile of autism need very specific support to thrive …

Giant pandas are very sensitive to their environment and require very specific support and accommodations to thrive. It has been shown how an integrated approach to their care – combining science, a genuine commitment from multiple parties and community engagement – is essential for success.

Similarly, helpful approaches for PDA need to be tailor-made. Conventional approaches based on firm boundaries and the use of rewards/consequences/praise, or approaches often recommended for autism (such as routine, structure and predictability), are often ineffective and even counter-productive for a PDA profile.

Low arousal approaches, which keep anxiety to a minimum and provide a sense of control, are good starting points when thinking about what works for PDA. A partnership based on trust, flexibility, collaboration, careful use of language and balancing of demands works best.

The PDA Panda symbolises these strategies and the P-A-N-D-A mnemonic is a quick reminder of the strategies as shown in our video and infographic below:

In partnership with Twinkl, the PDA Society has also co-produced 5 resources which are a ‘deep dive’ into the theory and practice behind our PANDA approaches for schools and educators, offering lots of helpful classroom support approaches as well as top tips and insight from PDA learners. FREE to download from Twinkl’s website.

The PDA Panda features on our pin badges and car stickers which can be purchased from the PDA Society Shop together with awareness/alert cards and panda plush toys.

We’d like to thank the Lighter Side of PDA Facebook group where the giant panda idea originated for allowing us to use this concept, Looker Marketing Communications for supporting the PDA Society in the creation of the original panda ambassador artwork and Sally Cat’s PDA Page for creating the video and updating the panda ambassador artwork.