£55 – £110

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The Nottingham Belfry Hotel

Mellors Way

Off Woodhouse Way



United Kingdom

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Refund Policy

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 30 days before event

Eventbrite's fee is nonrefundable.

Event description
'PDA in 2020’; A PDA Society Conference

About this Event

The PDA Society is bringing together leading international experts to look at how the Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) profile of autism is understood in 2020.

Keynote Speaker, Dr Wenn Lawson, is world-renowned for his combination of academic inquiry and personal insight. Having both a granddaughter with PDA, and a research programme finding exciting new ways to provide support, his contribution is not to be missed. We are very grateful that he is travelling from Australia to be with us.

The day will explore a range of complex issues around the nature of demand avoidance itself, impacts on communication, relationships, education, child behaviour, eating and mental health. Speakers will also address navigating social care and education systems.

The event is focussed on both PDA adults and children, and includes a number of speakers who are experts by experience. The conference will be helpful to anyone with an interest in the topic.

Ticket prices:

PDA individuals, Parents and Carers

  • £55 early bird (before 1st December 2019)
  • £70 full price


  • £95 early bird (before 1st December 2019)
  • £110 full price



  • Phil Christie - Conference Chair

An Independent Child Psychologist with Autism Associates. Phil worked with Prof Newson at the time she was first describing PDA. As Director of Children's Service at (what is now) Autism East Midlands he oversaw Sutherland House School and was lead consultant at the Elizabeth Newson Centre, a diagnostic centre for children with developmental disorders. He is co-author of several books on PDA.

  • Keynote Speaker: Dr Wenn Lawson - 'A Personal and Family Insight'

What is PDA, comparing PDA and other ASDs, the latest research and how it helps.

Dr Wenn is an autistic lecturer, psychologist, and Senior Consultant in Complex Needs for the Education Dept at the South Australian Government. He has written many books on autism, and is travelling to the UK from Australia to share his personal insights into the PDA experience, (his children and grandchildren are neuro-diverse, one has a PDA profile).

  • Dr Judy Eaton - 'The Clinical Approach to diagnosis of the PDA Profile'.

The difference between PDA and other forms of demand avoidance and the different management approaches needed.

Judy is a Clinical Psychologist working in an independent diagnostic centre for children and adults with neurodevelopmental disorders, including the PDA profile of autism. Judy is also a Research Associate at King's College London working on a project, with Prof. Francesca Happe, on PDA.

  • Geoff Evans – Behaviour that Challenges

'The Low Arousal Approach' for all ages and settings.

Geoff is an international trainer and consultant in autism and has worked in the field for 35 years. His current interests include autism and happiness through the life stages, and a holistic approach to behaviours of concern. For 20 years he was Head of Social Services with the National Autistic Society and Senior Lecturer in autism at Sheffield University. His engaging presentations are described as both very practical and inspirational.

  • Cathleen Long - 'Navigating Social Care'

Services that social care can provide and how to work with authorities if they start to explore child protection concerns.

Cathleen is a highly regarded, award-winning independent social worker who specialises in working with children and adults who are on the autism spectrum, some of whom have a PDA profile. She is an expert witness for SEND tribunals, judicial reviews and court of protection proceedings and also conducts assessments for mental capacity and the family courts.

  • Dr Elizabeth Shea - 'PDA, Mental Health and Eating'

The different types of mental illness individuals with a PDA profile may develop, in particular eating disorders, ARFID/food refusal.

Dr Shea is a Clinical Psychologist who specialises in autism and feeding disorders, she is on sabbatical from her work at the Birmingham Food Refusal Service but continues to do training, writing and consultancy.

  • Libby Hill - 'PDA and Speech and Language Therapy'

How and why therapy can be useful and latest research on social thinking

Libby is an award-winning speech and language therapist with 33 years experience. She is highly specialist in ASD but only came across PDA when filming for the Channel 4 TV programme, ‘Born Naughty’ in 2014. She has learnt much since then and seen very many PDA children from all over the UK and beyond. She is particularly interested in social thinking and will share her latest research findings.

  • Harry Thompson - 'The Natural Habitat of a PDAer'

Harry will share his personal perspective on what ‘good' looks like in terms of relationships, home, work and support.

Harry is now a public speaker, YouTuber, PDA mentor and author. His book, 'The PDA Paradox - my life on a little-known part of the autism spectrum' was published in February 2019.


WORKSHOPS - Each delegate can choose one workshop to attend from the following options:

A. Penny Thatcher - 'PDA in the Home Environment '

This workshop will look at the support and strategies children with a PDA profile need within their families.

Penny is a parent to two children, her 16 year old daughter has a rare genetic disorder and the PDA profile of autism. She is a qualified teacher and delivers training on inclusion and managing behaviours of concern for her local authority. Penny is also a trainer for the PDA Society.

B. Ruth Fidler - 'PDA in the School Environment'

Exploring the support strategies that children with PDA need within an educational environment.

Ruth is an Educational Consultant specialising in autism and PDA, interactive approaches and emotional wellbeing. For 22 years Ruth worked in a specialist school for children with ASD, including PDA. She now works independently delivering training and consultancy and was lead author on the book ‘Collaborative Approaches to Learning for Pupils with PDA'

C. Julia & Paul - 'Adult Coping Strategies & Relationships'

Julia will share with us ways in which adults can learn to live with their PDA. Paul and Julia will also share their individual perspectives on their relationship.

Julia is an avid blogger, public speaker and advocate on PDA and ADHD. She enjoys crafting, baking, watching TV and keeping out of trouble! Paul, her devoted partner, works in aviation publishing (aircraft are his ‘other love’) and says he "spends his days caring, writing, photo-editing and worrying!"

D. Jilly Davis and friends - 'Educational placements through the eyes of our young PDAers'

The different educational settings for PDA children, including personal reflections from young people.

Jilly has a wealth of experience in working with children with ASD and PDA through working as the Assistant Head at the NAS Robert Ogden School. Having recently retired from the school she is now working as a consultant, a member of the PDA Development Group and has just taken on the voluntary role of Education Adviser for the PDA Society.


Throughout the day there will be ....

A quiet room for individuals with PDA - this room will be available all day (including during the workshops) as a quiet space to relax, have lunch in a calmer environment or meet fellow PDA individuals.

Refreshments - will be served from 8.45am and throughout the day.

Lunch - a hot and cold finger buffet will be served at lunchtime. Please indicate any dietary requirements on the booking form.

A selection of stalls - including PDA Society literature & merchandise, SEN Books and professionals working in the field (confirmed so far: Positive Autism Support & Training and Grow Communications).



Q What are the times for the event?

A Registration and refreshments will be available from 8.45am. The conference will start at 9.30am promptly and finish by 4.45pm.

Q Is my registration/ticket transferable?

A You can transfer your ticket to someone else. Please make sure they have the original ticket and ask them to tell us your name when they book in. Only one person can be admitted for any one individual ticket.

Q Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

A Yes - it will help speed up your entry to the conference if you can bring your printed ticket.

Q What is the refund policy?

A As a small charity we are trying to make this conference affordable within our limited resources. We are incurring significant expense in putting on this conference and so have to be prudent with our refund policy. We can offer refunds for cancellations up to 30 days before the event less the £5 Eventbrite administration fee.

Where possible please contact us via Eventbrite if you require a refund (or email training@pdasociety.org.uk). After that date we won't be able to offer refunds although tickets are transferable to others (see above).

Q Are there discounts or concessions?

A We have kept the price as low as we can so unfortunately we are not in a position to offer any bulk discounts or concessions.

We understand that some may not be able to attend due to the ticket price, so we hope to be able to video record some of the presentations for viewing later in the year and there will also be a conference summary on our website.

Q What provision is there for delegates with restricted mobility?

A The Nottingham Belfry is fully accessible for delegates with restricted mobility as all conference rooms are on the ground floor. Any additional enquiries regarding access please contact us at training@pdasociety.org.uk for more information.

Q Are there limits on the number of places available?

A Yes. Booking will be on a first come, first served basis. We want to make the conference accessible to everyone who wants to come but we do have a finite limit so early booking is advised.

Q What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?

A Travelling By Car - The Nottingham Belfry is just one mile from the M1 Jct 26 and has free parking facilities for 250 cars.

A Travelling by Train - The PDA Society is running a shuttle bus from Nottingham Train Station to The Nottingham Belfry before and after the conference. There will be a small charge of £5 which will cover both journeys (if purchased this is non-refundable). Delegates will need to show the bus driver their ticket in order to travel.

Shuttle bus times and all details will be confirmed by email on or before 1st March 2020 .

Q Directions to the Hotel

A For further details please check the hotel website at


Q Can I bring my children?

A The conference would not be a suitable environment for babies or children. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer any child care arrangements.

In addition, the conference content would not be suitable for children under the age of 16.

(There will be young people speaking during workshop D who have been granted special permission to attend as ‘speakers’.)

Q Will there be any stalls at the event?

A There will be some stalls from other relevant organisations in the refreshment area.

Q I would be interested in volunteering for the PDA Society. How do I go about it?

A We are a small charity, run entirely by volunteers and so would welcome any support you can provide (please note that we already have our team in place for the conference itself, so this relates to ongoing volunteering). Please email us at training@pdasociety.org.uk and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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Date and Time


The Nottingham Belfry Hotel

Mellors Way

Off Woodhouse Way



United Kingdom

View Map

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 30 days before event

Eventbrite's fee is nonrefundable.

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