Borders mothers seek recognition of PDA condition

Former MSP Euan Robson accompanied Mary Black and Patricia Hewitt when they gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Petitions Committee
Former MSP Euan Robson accompanied Mary Black and Patricia Hewitt when they gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Petitions Committee

Two Borders mothers whose children display symptoms of Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome (PDA) are campaigning for recogniton of the condition in the region.

In December, Mary Black from Chirnside and Patricia Hewitt from Sprouston presented a 514-signature petition to the Scottish Government, calling for wider awareness and recognition of the condition, the symptoms of which include: avoidance, excessive mood swings and impulsivity, and obsessive behaviour.

Mary claimed her 13-year-old daughter Hannah was handcuffed in an effort to restrain her following an outburst in primary school, and Pat says her two sons (now aged 19 and 20) were bullied from primary two to sixth year in secondary school, and were systematically excluded.

Pat said: “Organisations in the Scottish Borders have an endemic failure to recognise people on the spectrum. Even now, Scottish Borders Council does not accept it is a condition. It’s very much a postcode lottery as some regions accept it, some don’t.

“And the ironic thing is that we moved here from Newcastle because I had heard of this wonderful education system, but if we stayed where we were, there is now a unit which recognises PDA.”

PDA is increasingly accepted as a behaviour profile on the autism spectrum, but not all experts agree. The conditions is still not officially recognised across Scotland and without a formal diagnosis even organisations set up for parents with children on the autism spectrum can’t help.

In January, Mary and Patricia were accompanied by former Scottish Deputy Minister for Education and Young People Euan Robson when they attended a Petitions Committee meeting to give evidence about their experiences and the need for a better understanding by those in authority.