Dr Gloria Dura-Vila MD, MRCPsych, MSc, PhD
Senior Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Autism And PDA Specialist
Human Brains Are Diverse and Equally Valuable
My Autism Book: A Child’s Guide to their Autistic Spectrum Diagnosis
For some time, I had been trying to find a book I needed for my patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which I hadn’t been able to find. I had been looking for a book to help parents explain to their children what their ASD diagnosis meant and to encourage an exploration of the child's strengths and difficulties, a book that was tailor-made for the child with Autism.
Again and again when I diagnosed a child with ASD in my clinical practice, parents often felt understandably overwhelmed and uncertain about how to communicate the diagnosis to their child and that sometimes these feelings meant that the diagnosis was not communicated well to the child or even not communicated at all (I have many “horror stories” of patients finding out about their diagnosis in horrible ways, such as reading “Autism” next to their names in a classroom list left unattended by a teacher).
I found many good books explaining the diagnosis to their parents, their teachers, their siblings, and their classmates, but I could not find a good book for children with Autism! I asked Jessica Kingsley Publishers to help me find such a book (Jessica Kingsley Publishers is a multi-award-winning independent publisher which publishes books in the field of mental health with special attention to autism). To cut a long story short, they offered me a contract to write the book myself!
My Autism Book: A Child’s Guide to their Autistic Spectrum Diagnosis became a reality in December 2013. It has become a best-seller, selling worldwide, and this little book has made me feel incredibly useful as a doctor.
I have received cards, testimonies and even presents from grateful readers telling me such wonderful things, on the line of children saying that the book has helped them to understand themselves, to like themselves; also parents, grandparents, teachers, even a godmother, thanking me for the book and telling me that they were using the book as a platform to explore the very personal characteristics of their child with Autism (in the book the child can tick the characteristics that apply to you, defining what autism means for them).
Me and My PDA: A Guide to Pathological Demand Avoidance for Young People
This beautifully illustrated guide helps young people with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) to understand their diagnosis, develop self-awareness and implement their own personalised problem-solving strategies.
Written in consultation with young people with PDA and their families, this book recognises the importance of handing control back to the young person, and that there is no one-size-fits-all PDA profile. Readers are encouraged to engage throughout with interactive writing, doodling, and checklist exercises to explore their own particular characteristics, strengths, and challenges.
Me and My PDA is sensitively tailored to the needs and experiences of young people (aged 10+) with PDA. The guide is designed to grow with the reader and can be used for many years as the young person develops and changes - making it invaluable to PDA-diagnosed individuals and their families.
The Amazing Autistic Brain Cards: 150 Cards with Strengths and Challenges for Positive Autism Discussions
This deck of cards is a resource to help professionals, parents and anyone working with autistic young people to have discussions about an Autism diagnosis in a personalised, positive, and meaningful way.
The beautifully designed cards each show a strength - such as being inquisitive or honest - or a challenge - such as sensory difficulties or understanding emotions. The pack also includes reusable blank cards which can be personalised.
The accompanying booklet provides approaches and strategies developed by Dr Durà-Vilà in her clinical practice. She also shares her personal (and occasionally humorous) experiences, including tips for discussing an Autism diagnosis. These accounts inspire readers to give their best to any young person when sharing an Autism diagnosis, and in the conversations that follow.
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
The Panda on PDA: A Children's Introduction to Pathological Demand Avoidance
In this positive, gentle, and PDA-friendly guide for young children, PDA is explained by a playful Panda who has PDA and is very proud of it. The Panda is full of talents and strengths but finds it very hard to do what others want. In fact, the Panda has become great at climbing trees and bamboo and hiding in caves to escape demands!
The Panda addresses the challenges and struggles of PDA honestly but can also thrive and live a happy life in the right environment when supported by others.
Sadness, Depression, and the Dark Night of the Soul: Transcending the Medicalisation of Sadness
Foreword by Professor Roland Littlewood
Revealing a tension between the medical model of depression and the very different language of theology, this book explores how religious people and communities understand severe sadness, their coping mechanisms, and their help-seeking behaviours.
Drawing from her study of practising Catholics, contemplative monks and nuns, priests and laypeople studying theology, the author describes how symptoms that might otherwise be described as pathological and meet diagnostic criteria for a depressive disorder are considered by some religious individuals to be normal and valued experiences. She explains how sadness fits into the “Dark Night of the Soul” narrative - an active transformation of emotional distress into an essential ingredient for self-reflection and spiritual growth - and how sadness with a recognised cause is seen to 'make sense', whereas sadness without a cause may be seen to warrant psychiatric consultation. The author also discusses the role of the clergy in cases of sadness and depression and their collaboration with medical professionals.
This is an insightful read for anyone with an interest in theology or mental health, including clergy, psychiatrists, and psychologists.