Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a term that describes a wide range of special educational needs that centre around how a person perceives the world and interacts with others.
Another term that is related to (ASD) is Pathological Demand Avoidance. This is a term that increasingly comes into conversations that I have had with parents and schools and so it is great to be able to be in touch with Autism expert, Ruth Fidler.
Ruth welcome to my blog. Please could you tell my readers a little about yourself?
Thanks John. I am an Education Consultant specialising in complex autism, Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), interactive approaches and emotional well being.
I worked at an all age non-maintained special school for 94 pupils across the autism spectrum for 22 years until 2014 and have worked independently since then. During my time on the senior leadership team the school sustained Ofsted outstanding status. I worked within the school promoting interactive approaches and emotional well being for pupils with complex autism. As a member of the leadership team I had a strategic role and contributed to continuing professional development for all staff. I also led an outreach pilot project working with other agencies to meet the needs of children and young people currently unable to attend school.
As well as providing training, I regularly observe and monitors teaching and learning, supporting staff to embed and refine good autism and SEND practice.
I regularly presents at local and national events and conferences for parents and a range of professionals. I provide training and consultancy for a variety of schools and services across the UK and with organisations including the Autism Education Trust, the National Autistic Society and the PDA Society. I am also a member of the National Autism and Girls Forum and the National PDA development group.
I have contributed to publications in the Good Autism Practice (GAP) journal on the subject of promoting emotional wellbeing and is co-author of the following books; ‘Understanding Pathological Demand Avoidance syndrome in children’ (2012), ‘Can I Tell You About Pathological Demand Avoidance?’ (2015) Collaborative Approaches to Learning (2019) and Girls and Autism (2019)
You have clearly built up a real body of work in the field of Autism. Why do you do what you do?
Put simply, I am very lucky to have been able to build a career doing something I love. I am motivated by seeking to make a positive difference to children and young people, to their families and to the adults who support them. I am able to draw on nearly 30 years of experience, but it should also be said that I invariably learn more from all sorts of individuals I meet.
Where can our readers see you speak about PDA and Autism?
I will be delivering a plenary talk entitled “Understanding and supporting pupils with Pathological Demand Avoidance” at the SEN Jigsaw Conference on June 8th in Stoke-on-Trent.
I will help delegates to gain a better understanding of Pathological Demand Avoidance profiles and more importantly, of ways to support this group of vulnerable youngsters in terms of their well-being and their access to learning.
That sounds really interesting. What will the delegates gain from attending your talk?
Delegates will develop an understanding of Pathological Demand Avoidance profiles and the implications for individuals, for families and for education practitioners working with these pupils. They will learn strategies and approaches to enhance their practice and to promote engagement with learning and emotional well-being for pupils.