I am very excited to have Diane Gould answering some questions about her work on the blog this month! I first met Diane in 2019 and she was the one who introduced me to PDA. She shared a number of resources and organizes regular certification training for PDA. She has had a long career in helping autistic children and their families and she is the founder of PDA North America. She provides consultation to families and training and consultation to schools and agencies. She also offers the PEERS program and Dinner with Friends, which are social skills programs for teens and young adults. I hope this will be the first of many opportunities to hear from Diane on the blog! Here are a few of my questions for her and her responses.

How did you learn about PDA?

I heard about PDA several years ago but admit that I did not pay much attention. At that time so many things autism related kept popping up, some credible and others not. I am so busy I don’t always take the time to check out everything I hear about. About two years ago, a mother made me pay attention. She would not take no for an answer as she felt that PDA explained her son. She sent me article after article from the UK. What first attracted me to PDA is the approach they outline to support challenging behavior. That approach was aligned to what I had been using and recommending for vulnerable and traumatized kids. I decided to learn more about it and contacted Laura Kerbey in the UK for her certification program. That process led me to do a webinar on PDA and plan the first American workshop on the subject. In that process I heard from parents all over the United States who had found PDA on their own and were so grateful for a professional bringing awareness.

Can you tell me more about your website, PDANorthAmerica.com? What are your goals with this site?

We had the workshop in March 2020 right before the shutdown. Having extra time allowed me to quickly get the website up and running. I wanted parents to have a website to show naysayers. I wanted proof that PDA was a real thing. That is one goal of the website. It is also a place to find resources. As professionals get certified in PDA, they can get listed on the site and parents can contact them.

How can parents learn more about PDA ?

They can email me through the website or to my regular practice email. The PDA society in the UK is the best resource in the world for PDA related information.

What resources are available for parents and families of children with PDA?

We have books, podcasts, websites listed on the website. We have started monthly webinars on relevant topics. We also started some parent-led, parent support groups. We have listings of trained professionals. We have an affiliated home/unschooling circle to give guidance to parents led by Zach Morris who is on the PDA North America team. Our next conference will be on March 3 and 4th in the Chicago area. Exciting things are happening.

How can professionals who want to learn more about PDA get involved?

I have a continued relationship with Laura Kerbey who has the certification process. Professionals can also email me directly to learn about PDA. We have families who really need professional support.

What is the PEERS program?

PEERS is an evidence-based program for teens and young adults that focuses on making and keeping friends. The young adult program also includes dating. I have been offering this program for many years. It is the program that was featured in the television show ‘Love on the Spectrum.’It is a very unique type of social skills program. Participants find it empowering.

Diane, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to share some information about what you are doing!

For people who are interested in learning more about Diane, PDA, or her current social skills programs, you can learn more at https://www.pdanorthamerica.com,https://www.peerschicago.com, or https://www.dianegouldtherapy.com.

If you are looking for a psychologist who will take the time to understand where you are and help you find answers, Dr. Jessica Myszak works with children and adults in many states—learn more about getting a psychological evaluation here.