Current Events: PDA – U.S.A. Facebook Group Review

  • This is a blog version of a video I did recently on my YouTube, linked here

    SUMMARY

    • Graeme Storey severely restricts adult PDA voices in his groups, but especially in the larger groups that he claims are geared only toward families with PDA children.
    • Graeme lays claim to multiple PDA-themed groups spanning the globe with around 5-10 thousand members despite him being neither PDA nor residents of those countries.



Beware of the groups PDA Global, PDA Australia, PDA New Zealand, PDA USA, PDA Adults Global
    • He makes exaggerated claims to his authority, referring to his personal vetting process as “accreditation”.
    • The process for joining his groups is EXTREMELY restrictive and not PDA friendly.
    • When confronted with criticism he blocks and deflects blame.
    • I personally chose to reach out to Graeme after publishing my video, sharing with him my reasons for making it and how I believed he could make improvements. I was blocked and banned from his groups.
    • It’s well known in PDA institutions that Graeme is “troublesome”, and yet those inside his groups have no idea because most are non-PDA parents seeking guidance on how to parent their PDA child. PDA study is still in its early stages and this puts many parents in the position of ignorance as far as recognizing and diagnosing PDA behaviors.

    If you would like to join a Facebook group created and ran by fellow PDA’ers you can find the one I made in response to this experience here.

FULL STORY


As part of my PDA personality I enjoy joining every Facebook group about any topic I have any interest in. I had already joined about four or five other PDA oriented groups when I went to find a USA-based group. The only one I found, PDA - USA, had 3,000 members and was run by a man named Graeme Storey. Graeme’s instructions for joining the group seemed more complex than what I was used to in joining other PDA groups which caught me off guard, like saying applicants needed to message Graeme personally and then would get permission to join. This felt excessive enough to trigger my PDA avoidance. 


Screenshot of group joining rules

I made a mental note to try again later then abandoned the effort.

Eventually I circle back around and followed his prompts: I messaged Graeme letting him know I was a PDA adult and based in the US, could I join? When Graeme did write me back I was surprised by his response.

He stated that because I was a PDA adult, this was not the group for me. He then sent me a link to a much much smaller group (1/10th the size) that was apparently for PDA adults only.

Screenshot

I was both peaked and offended; who in the world saw the distinction that PDA adults shouldn't be in a group about PDA children? If anything, aren’t PTA adults an essential element in helping understand PDA children since PDA is still being studied?

I also got the strong vibe from the rigidity in his interactions that Graeme may consider me a threat if he knew I ran my own PDA page. Whether or not I had my own page I knew was not joining the group with the purpose of promoting myself, so I chose not to divulge.

Despite the weird vibes thus far I chose following through with joining, if for no other reason than to see what it was like and if there was anything helpful I could learn.

I wrote Graeme back letting him know that I was also the parent of two PDA children, therefore could I please join the bigger group? Graeme responded yes, gave me the heads up that he was about to send a whole lot of information my way, and please could I not be triggered and overwhelmed by it.



Overwhelmed was an understatement. Paragraph after paragraph of information followed. Lucky for me I’m a fast reader and was able to skim through to get a feel for what I was getting into, like catching that Graeme clarified he himself was not PDA but “profoundly Asperger’s”, that he created this group and others like it years ago and had so many followers, that he owns his own PDA webpage and has “decades” (decades??) of web-design experience to pull from. 



Baffled by the entire experience I gave niceties to Graeme and went on my way. 

But bizarrely overwhelming did prompt me to filter my impressions through one of my other favorite PDA groups, PDA Universal, to see if they were shared.

Oh yes, they said—was I referring to Graeme Storey? I then got a lot of information and a little back story.

Yes they knew who he was, yes there were previous altercations. Years ago Graeme got into a disagreement with another major PDA individual and had what they called an “intensely-obsessive” reaction to this person.

There were shenanigans back and forth which eventually led to Graham blocking anybody involved and locking down the group with new strict protocols for who could join and what resources were allowed to be shared.

I also learned many PDA adults were blocked from Graeme’s groups for seemingly minor issues like swearing, or privately questioning his judgment.

I felt a fire grow inside me at the new information, but I didn’t want to react too fast. In my experience over the years I do better giving myself time to process.

Weeks have gone by and the discomfort I feel at not speaking out now outweighs my discomfort at confrontations. I had also during this time been casually reading through posts to get a feel for what kind of group he was running.

What I saw was not all bad. The main resources PDA spokesperson he allowed was Kristy Forbes and the techniques promoted PDA friendly. At Peace Parenting was another spokesperson he allows, and though that creator herself is not autistic most of what she shares is her personal parenting experiences plus her reflections on Kristy Forbe’s teachings.


WHY DOES THIS MATTER?


In no other disabled community that I’m aware of is it acceptable to allow a non-member supersede the voices of those within. Especially in the autistic community this type of silencing is viewed as unacceptable, and for good reason. Who else more qualified to speak to the impact of PDA then those who are PDA?

Second, Graeme misrepresents his expertise and authority. There is no such thing as “accredited” Facebook groups or websites and he should not being using misleading terminology.


Third, PDA is not merely a topic of special interest. Graeme may be autistic or “profoundly Asperger’s” but that doesn’t qualify him to lay some kind of claim. PDA are unique in their expression of autism with their own strengths and weaknesses. The fact Graeme seems to approach PDA as a hobby while simultaneously silencing PDA voices is a slap in the face.

Fourth, PDA is still being studied with many unknowns even between two PDA individuals. Graeme is putting these families in his group at a disadvantage and (unless they’re in an outside PDA group) they may never know. In my time within the group I did see incomplete information shared.

CONCLUSION


I don’t want to be fueled by controversy, but it’s my conviction that there are appropriate times to speak out. I do consider this one. It’s my conviction Graeme’s groups should not be promoted as a PDA-friendly resources, that alternatives created and supported within their host countries, and his active influence lessened.

I did reached out to Graham privately with my concerns and made myself available should he decide to change how he approaches his anxieties around PDA adults. He then proceeded to block me.


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