Parental Blame and the PDA Profile of Autism


This report presents the findings of a survey of 1016 parents and carers of PDA children.

The aims of the survey were:

  • to explore how prevalent parental blame is among families with PDA children
  • to identify any patterns around when, how and why parental blame manifests
  • to find out if there are any types of parents/carers who are more susceptible to being blamed for their PDA child's presentation
  • to learn about how this feels for parents/carers.

The report centres parents' and carers' voices and experiences throughout. 88% of parents/carers completing the survey said that they had felt blamed for some aspect of their PDA child's presentation or "lack of progress".

The authors conclude that when parents/carers are blamed for their PDA child's presentation, it is the child that ultimately suffers. Their analysis showed that families headed by either a lone mother and/or a neurodivergent parent are most at risk of blame in the form of safeguarding.

The report concludes with the changes that parents and carers would like to see, and notes the need for more autism/PDA professionals.

Please note that the report contains sensitive content, including references to parent blame, self-harm, and suicide.

Authors: Alice Running and Danielle Jata-Hall

Published: February 2023



Further resources:

Education, health, and social care professionals can refer to our What is PDA? and Working with PDA pages where they can find valuable information about a PDA profile of autism and helpful approaches for supporting children and families.

For families who are affected by parent blame, the PDA Society offers support through our free enquiry line.

Campaign to Challenge Blame A resource for parent-carers of autistic children who are receiving blame instead of support.