Hi, I’m Diane Gould, LCSW

I specialize in PDA and other complex neurodivergent profiles.

My Philosophy

In the 4th grade, I read a book about Jane Addams and decided to become a social worker. During my 20s, I attended the Jane Addams School of Social Work to pursue my master’s degree after obtaining an undergraduate in behavioral psychology. In addition to helping others, human behavior was always interesting to me. Since graduating college, I have focused my career on serving vulnerable children and adults, and struggling families. Over the last 40-plus years, I have worked in schools and social service agencies before starting a full-time private practice 14 years ago.

I have focused on working with autistic and other neurodivergent individuals for most of my career. As my understanding of autism has changed, I have tried to stay current. This practice and my interest in trauma led me to specialize in the complex PDA profile.

To be honest, I found parenting challenging. It was the best and most difficult experience of my life. Too few people feel permitted to talk about this. I don’t know how anyone parents a complicated kid without support. I strive to be that helpful, nonjudgmental professional in the lives of families. I have had the good fortune of supporting some families for decades and through the ups and downs of life. I am so fortunate to have been allowed into the lives of so many wonderful people.

Although I incorporated behavior analysis into my practice for a while, the field never felt like a good fit. During that period, I was able to create sensible, respectful, and effective behavior plans that were far from the norm. Although I never practiced ABA therapy and hoped to influence the field from within, I understand that anything related to traditional behavioral approaches can be traumatic to some autistic individuals. I am most comfortable returning to my social work roots, where we believe in self-determination and dignity. I strive to use neurodevelopmentally informed, trauma-sensitive, biologically respectful, and relationship-based ways of understanding and supporting all individuals.

At this point in my career, I hope to pass on what I have learned through training and consultation to individuals, schools, and other systems. My clients have been the best teachers. I provide direct service through parent consultations and friendship/relationship development programs. In everything I do, I believe in looking beneath the surface and partnering to find the answers.

 

How I Can Help

Families & Parents

  • Problem-solving sessions with parents, individuals, or others on specific behavioral concerns
  • Social & relationship development including Social Thinking® and PEERS®
  • Innovative Dinner With Friends program
  • Parenting support and guidance
  • Assistance to parents of newly diagnosed children in understanding the implications of a diagnosis and treatment planning
  • Consulting schools on PDA-affiming guidelines (available nationally)

Professionals

  • Behavior assessments and the creation of Stress Support Plans
  • Expertise in Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome (PDA)
  • Staff training on autism-related issues, behavior change, social/relationship
    skills, PDA, and other topics
  • Clinical supervision
  • Case Consultation
  •  Consulting teachers and staff on PDA-affiming guidelines (available nationally)

Navigating PDA in America

Although Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) has been a recognized autistic profile in the UK for some time, awareness is still growing in America. When parents first learn about it they talk about having a lightbulb moment of understanding their child better. Many described how, having found traditional parenting and behavioral techniques made things worse instead of better, they felt judged and alone. Teachers and school administrators also reported struggling to support their PDA students. The children, teens and young adults themselves were often left feeling misunderstood.

In our book we explain PDA with an emphasis on promoting well-being both for PDA individuals and all those who support them. It provides a neurodiversity-affirming framework for supporting anxious, demand avoidant individuals across a range of settings and services. As awareness spreads across the pond, we hope the compassion and clarity in this book will become a valuable guide to many.

Get your copy here.