Duncan Casburn, aka PDA Dad UK, started a YouTube channel last year to help promote the understanding and acceptance of autism. He is the father of two beautiful kids, Curtis and Sienna, and Sienna lives with autism and pathological demand avoidance (PDA). Their most recent venture has seen Duncan and Sienna team up to offer reviews on sensory toys, giving viewers the perspective from the child and the parent.

We caught up with the father-daughter duo to find out more about the amazing work they are doing to support the autistic community.

What made you start your YouTube channel?
I run a large Facebook group called The UK Autism Spectrum Parents Support Group. I noticed a lot of the same questions coming up over and over and was spending a lot of time researching for answers. I learned a lot, and in the end I thought I might as well put the research to good use, so I started PDA Dad UK. Later on, I was looking for people to collaborate with. I connected with Chris (@therealgrumpdad) and we started The Grumpy Dads – a more light-hearted look at the world, while also looking at serious issues. We’ve been stunned at the quality of guests we’ve had. This also led to The Grumpy Gits, which is with Simon Sansome (the author of the new The Bill series, Sun Hill) and Adam Pearson who won Celebrity Mastermind. 

What do you enjoy most about creating these videos?
Having a valid platform that looks at generating accurate and positive information on parenting autism and PDA – indeed neurodiversity in general. I’m very privileged to know a number of autistic adults. Having the input of actually autistic people has been such a valuable insight into how to best support my daughter with her needs. I tackle some harder issues too, such as aggressive behaviours, but I try to remain respectful to my neurodiverse friends and bring it back to understanding the root issues and how to support them. I’ve learned so much and it all helps me make my daughter’s tomorrow better than her today. 

When did Sienna decide she wanted to be involved?
She’s been wanting to do something on YouTube for a long while, but I’ve been reluctant. I see some other channels (which I won’t name) who plaster their kids all over the place and I didn’t want to have her too exposed. But the idea came for specifically reviewing and testing sensory toys and tools, or products related to neurodiversity in general. My kids watch loads of toy reviews but I realised there’s nothing for the sensory specific. I asked her if she’d want to do it with me and she was so excited. We came up with the idea of her testing and reviewing from the autistic and child’s perspective, and then me reviewing as a parent.  

Sienna, why did you want to get involved with product reviews?
I like watching unboxing on YouTube. Curtis (Sienna’s brother) watches Ryan and CKN Reviews all the time. I sometimes make my own on my iPad and asked Daddy if I could have a YouTube channel but he wouldn’t let me. Then he asked me if I want to help him and I said, “yes!”

Have you enjoyed unboxing and reviewing products?
DUNCAN: It’s been so nice being able to do something together like this. Sienna was my main inspiration for my Facebook group and my channel. Being able to involve her at a deeper level has been fantastic 

SIENNA: I love it! Especially the Pop-it cos I’ve wanted one because my BFF has a few and I like playing with them 

How important do you think it is for young people with SEND to see these product reviews?
I think it’s important for both kids and parents alike. The unique thing we have with these reviews is that you get the raw reaction from Sienna and her thoughts about the product. But then you get the parents side from me, looking at the quality and the value and so on. 

For young people with SEND it’s especially good though. Because from Sienna’s side they’re getting the opinions of a neurodiverse young person, not someone trying to understand the value from the outside. 

Do you have plans for more?
We do. We’re hoping to have a review out once every week or two. If anyone has a product they’d like reviewed I’d love to hear from them too. My email is pdadaduk@gmail.com. 

You can watch their videos on YouTube by searching ‘PDA Dad UK’ and you can follow Duncan on Twitter @pdadaduk

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