Family Support Project

training & consultancy for parents and family members


The Family Support Project is a Social Enterprise that was set up to provide affordable physical skills training to families.


We understand because we have been where you are and have walked the walk with our own family members.

Problem Solvers

Our approach is truly person centred. The individual in distress is at the centre of everything we do.

Our Story


The Family Support Project arose after a chance encounter between Des Cooke, owner of D.ESCAL8 and Christianne Pollock, mother of a teenager with severe autism and learning disabilities. Christianne’s own experiences of being left to try and support her son’s distressed behaviours and the huge difference D.ESCAL8 training made to her family motivated discussion about providing these opportunities for other families. Much of the training that exists is not really appropriate for families and training can be difficult to access. This is frustrating, particularly considering it can make a huge difference to distress levels and make it possible for young people and adults to remain living in the family home or remain in regular contact with their families. Both Des and Christianne are committed to working with other families to improve the lives of people living with and affected by distressed behaviours.

Both Des and Christianne believe that values are the most important foundation of any organisation working with vulnerable people. We believe in respect, supporting individuals in distress and recognising each person as an individual. 

The Family Support Project is a social enterprise. We believe that training should be affordable and any profits are used to help fund further courses and support. We are currently working with other organisations to develop our social values. 


Des Cooke BCBA

Des Cooke BCBA

Trainer & Board Certified Behaviour Analyst

Des has been a Trainer for many years and now runs a training and consultancy company called D.ESCAL8 (pronounced de-escalate).

Des grew up with disabilities as part of his life, with family working in the industry and a close family member with a learning disability. Through his working career Des has assisted many families with their relatives who display distress in an unorthodox manner. Des disagrees with the common use of the outdated term Challenging Behaviour.

Des is also a carer for the Shared Lives Scheme in West Wales. As well as finding this role rewarding, challenging and a lot of fun it also means he has ‘real life’ experience of caring for individuals on a day to day basis.

Through a lot of studying and training Des developed a system which, from numerous testimonials, is different and superior to common training in this field. It is this training that the Family Support Project is committed to bringing to families.

Des runs open courses, not just for family, but also specialist courses for independent carers / therapists / support staff who cannot access training through an employer.

Please see for all Des’s work

Dr Christianne Pollock

Dr Christianne Pollock

Parent and Family Trainer

Christianne has a teenage son with autism who is non-verbal and has severe learning disabilities. She has a background in studying interactions of children with severe autism using a methodology called Conversation Analysis (CA) and has presented this work at international conferences as well as co-authoring two book chapters using CA. CA allows a non-deficit approach to be taken when considering interactions of those with autism and learning disabilities, instead seeking to understand how interactions are mutually accomplished.

Christianne  works for NHS England as an independent Expert by Experience for the Care and Treatment Review Programme. This was developed following the Winterbourne View scandal and involves working as part of a panel to review the care of adults and young people with autism and/or learning disabilities currently admitted to hospital or at risk of hospital admission.

For the past 2 years Christianne has been working as a support therapist to increase her hands on experience with individuals with learning disabilities and mental health conditions.

Christianne is now training to be a speech and language therapist at Plymouth Marjon  University.


Des Cooke BCBA



Board Certified Behaviour Analyst
UK-SBA Speakers Series with Professor Greg Hanley
First Aid Training


Advanced Topics in Behaviour Analysis
Ethical and Professional Conduct of Behaviour Analysts
Targeted Topics in Behaviour Analysis: Essentials of Organizational Behaviour Management
Positional Asphyxia Course
Decreasing, Eliminating, and Replacing Problem Behaviour
Introduction to Ethical & Professional Conduct of Behaviour Analysts
Developing, Strengthening and Maintaining Behaviour
Sensory Process Disorder Awareness Diploma
Risk Assessment Training


Basic Elements of Applied Behaviour Analysis
Foundations, Concepts, and Principles of Behaviour Analysis
Dementia: Understanding and Managing Challenging Behaviour
Adults at risk (Safeguarding – Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA))
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Learning Disabilities and Dementia


Learning Disability Equality awareness training
Mental Capacity Act training
Quality Management System Training
Emergency First Aid

Epilepsy Awareness Training
Food Safety and Hygiene Course
Skills for Care (original member of physical interventions focus group)
SCIF (Social Care Induction Framework – working group in West Wales)


Adult Placement Award – 3 day
Adult Placement Award – Medication
Mental Capacity Act
Food Safety Awareness
Safeguarding Essential Awareness
Epilepsy Awareness
Learning Disability Equality


Neuro Linguistic Programming – Master Practitioner
The Open University
Master of Science in Psychology (F15)
Postgraduate Diploma in Social Sciences (D41)
Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Studies in Education (C27)
Bachelor of Science (Honours) Open (BD)
Diploma in Information Technology (D38)
Exploring cognition: damaged brains and neural networks (DS871)
Cognitive psychology (D309)
Child development in families, schools and society (ED840)
Introduction to research: basic skills and survey methods (DT840)
The challenge of the social sciences (D820)
Digital communications (T305)
Information technology and society (THD204)

Dr Christianne Pollock


Book chapter: Cordet Smart, Christianne Pollock, Lindsay Aikman and Erica Willougby (2018), “Power struggles in MDT meetings: Using different orders of interaction to understand the interplay of hierarchy, knowledge and accountability”, In Interprofessional Care and Mental Health. A Discursive Exploration of Team Meeting Practices (Cordet Smart and Tim Auburn, eds).  Palgrave Macmillan

Book chapter: Timothy Auburn & Christianne Pollock (2013), “Laughter and competence: Children with severe autism using laughter to joke and tease”, In Studies of laughter in interaction (Phillip Glenn, Elisabeth Holt, eds.), Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 135-60.

Pollock, C. and Auburn T. Joking in teaching contexts by children with severe autism. International Conference on Conversation Analysis, 4-8 July 2010, Mannheim, Germany,

Pollock, C. and Auburn T. ‘Laughter is the shortest distance between two people’ (Victor Borge). Laughter in the interactions of children with severe autism. International Conference on Laughter and Humour in Interaction. Huddersfield, 24-25 June 2009

Pollock, C, Auburn, T., Clibbens, J. and Phillips, C. (2008) Interactions of Children with Severe Autism. International Meeting for Autism Research, London, England. 15th – 17th May, 2008


Plymouth Marjon University, 2018 – current BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy 

Plymouth University, 2008 – 2010 MSc, Psychological Research Methods

University of York, 1993 – 1997 DPhil, Biological Sciences

University of Oxford, 1989 – 1992 BA (Hons), Zoology



40 hours Registered Behaviour Technician Training


Makaton Foundation Workshop

Meltowns: Helping Infants, Children and Adolescents Overcome Behaviour Problems, Agression and Tantrums. Using a DIR/Floortime Model


Basic course on DIR/Floortime Model


PECS 2 day course

Incorporating PECS across the day

PECS Congress 


Drop Us A Line

If you are struggling to cope with a family member showing distressed behaviours, we can help you.

Please do not hesitate to get in contact.