Cathy May is a Specialist Coach and Cognitive Behavioural Therapist specialising in Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), and co-existing conditions. She is also a parent of two adult neurodiverse sons.
Cathy is currently a student at the University of Oxford studying research methodology with a view to developing better understanding and support approaches for autistic children, young people and their families. A particular focus will be for those with an extreme demand avoidant presentation. She has an MA in Autism and subsequently gained a Postgraduate Diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy at the University of Oxford, specialising in Complex Presentations. She is also a member of BABCP and a registered member coach of the Association for Coaching.
Cathy has worked with hundreds of adults and families over the years. She works with parents and carers of children, young people, and adults including: those transitioning into university or work, the employed and unemployed, professionals (including academics, CEOs, doctors, lawyers and psychologists), couples, and the elderly or retired. She is experienced with complex co-existing conditions and mental health difficulties.
Cathy worked as a specialist coach and became the senior coach for a large in-county Autism and ADHD charity. She was a committee member for the Hertfordshire branch of the National Autistic Society and ran their helpline. She co-facilitated a number of local support groups and was on the Preferred Providers Register for the Disabled Student Allowance quality assurance framework working with university students with Autism and ADHD. She also worked in a specialist school as a High-Level Teaching Assistant supporting pupils, and their families, on the autism spectrum and with ADHD.
On a personal note
I am a parent of two adult neurodiverse sons who between them have diagnoses of autism, ADHD and other co-existing conditions. There was little understanding or effective help for me or for them when they were young. Seeing them trying to cope in situations which others found easy, and in a school system which had little understanding of their needs, took its toll on us all, both emotionally and physically. I found it exhausting trying to navigate services to get the support they needed without the relevant knowledge or skills. So little of what I tried seemed to make much difference. I was losing confidence and believed I was failing as a parent. There were times when I lost all hope that things would ever improve.
If only I could have looked into the future and known then what I know now, I would have seen that everything would be alright and that my boys would far exceed any expectations I had for them. If only I had had that hope back in those difficult days!
This experience has given me a deep understanding and compassion for neurodiverse people and their families. I cannot go back to when my children were young and use my professional experience when it was most needed, but I can use that knowledge and expertise to support those who need it now.