Improving outcomes - accessing PDA specific training

The PDA Society and other third party trainers are receiving an increasing amount of enquiries for training in the PDA profile of autism from across a range of sectors – education, community care, criminal justice, NHS teams and others.

It is encouraging to see that many teams who may be used to supporting autistic people are becoming aware of the need to adopt different approaches for people with complex presentations including those with a PDA profile.

Thank you to the organisations below for sharing why they sought out PDA training and what the outcomes have been.

For information about forthcoming PDA training, please see our events diary or please email us.
We were struggling with individuals who would ask us to arrange activities of their choice and then when we set up these activities incidents would occur. We wanted to know why this was happening and learn new ways to avoid this vicious cycle. PDA training helped increase awareness in our team – we have gone through our case load to identify individuals with features of PDA are now thinking of different ways to support them to do the activities they want to do - Consultant Psychiatrist Community NHS team

A child started at our school having previously been excluded from another school after one week in reception due to his displays of damaging anger. He had been diagnosed with autism showing specific traits of PDA and had some sensory needs. As a staff we realised we needed to skill up quickly about PDA and find effective ways to support him. PDA training gave us a new perspective on how to understand what life is like for a child with PDA.  Staff were able to recognise that he was exhibiting extreme anxiety and that his outbursts were in fact panic attacks.  Alongside this staff were able to access information about strategies and methods of structuring his day.  We also came to appreciate that a different way of learning would suit him and that we would have to find ways to accommodate this.  He has been in school for over a year now and is able to access some learning on his own terms.  Staff are able to manage his needs most of the time and feel more confident in supporting him, although he remains unpredictable and therefore we have learnt there is no one strategy which works consistently! - Charlie Farr, Senior Teacher, Folly Hill Infant School

The Shine Centre is an autism specific organisation with an early intervention centre, a behavioural support service, a school support service and other support services. We had a student several years ago who presented with PDA, although at the time we knew nothing about PDA. We tried every approach possible with this child, nothing worked and everything we and other professionals did seemed to make things worse. Through my own research I finally discovered PDA and felt sure that this child met the criteria, although he left our service soon afterwards. Subsequently I’ve come across more and more children who present with a PDA profile of autism, and by using different approaches and avoiding direct demands we have had some success. Having training in PDA has helped me to feel more confident in these approaches and has given me other strategies that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of. I now train my colleagues to implement these strategies too and feel that we’re having a very positive impact and are able to help families who are really struggling - Alma Carroll, Behavioural Specialist, The Shine Centre, Ireland

We have a service user who has PDA and really struggles with her anxieties and challenging behaviour. Most of our staff had never heard of PDA, so the training meant that we were able to understand our service user’s anxieties and triggers better, thus avoid escalations and support her in a different way so that she is more able to engage. Our staff now feel more confident and competent in supporting our service user - Lucy Wells, Registered Manager, Independence Homes

We had a child in school who we suspected may have been on the Autistic Spectrum but her needs were very different to other children we had supported before. A specialist autism teacher and consultant suggested PDA might be a good fit – we hadn’t come across this before, but on reading the PDA Society’s booklet we agreed. We felt that we needed a much better understanding of PDA in order to meet her needs more successfully, and that it was also important for her parents to attend the training as well so that they could begin to better understand their child's needs. The training enabled us to understand the child, that typical strategies that might work for an autistic child wouldn’t in her case, and respond to her needs in better and more appropriate ways. As a result of the strategies implemented, the child is now on the whole much calmer at the start of the school day (which was the most difficult time) and consequently settles into school better and is able to access far more of the curriculum alongside her peers. We are also more aware of possible trigger points during the day and can avoid these through adaptations to expectations, presentation, style of addressing the child etc.  As a result the days are calmer, the child is much less anxious and is better able to learn - Primary School SENCo

With greater pressure on mainstream schools in relation to achievement it is becoming more challenging to provide the flexibility needed to manage students with a PDA profile, and whilst SEN staff recognise the need to adapt approaches for these students it can be tricky to get all teaching staff on board and to implement in a class of 30. It’s now easier to access specific PDA training, and we found it particularly helpful to hear the perspective of individuals with PDA and parents as part of training for teachers. The training provided clear approaches and helpful phraseology that we could put into action immediately, trialling different strategies to see which are the most effective for each individual. With new students starting in September with a PDA profile, we are using the knowledge and skills gained as part of the transition process - SENCo, mainstream secondary school