Thursday, 9 August 2012

An Open Letter to Arlene Cassidy from Dr Mickey Keenan, University of Ulster

Dr Mickey Keenan has written an open letter to the autism charity AutismNI.

In his letter he asks AutismNI CEO Arlene Cassidy to support evidence based education for children who have autism, i.e., education based on science and measurable evidence of efficacy.

The letter is overdue, and highlights the need for transparency and dialogue regarding autism education and services in Northern Ireland. Dr Keenan has written a letter that parents should have written. Please support him in quest to obtain answers regarding the education of your children with autism in Northern Ireland.

You can view Dr Keenan's open letter here.

You may ask why Dr Keenan bothered to write such a letter to a charity.

Recently, Arlene Cassidy, the CEO of AutismNI, was appointed by the government to chair an inter-departmental research committee on autism. Together with other voluntaries, she and they will be looking at autism research, something that has not been done in Northern Ireland.

Despite the existence of a plethora of international autism research in the last 10 years, no one has been deferring to the evidence coming from that research, nor has it been applied or used in Northern Ireland. Arlene Cassidy and her fellow members of this research group have a duty to YOU and to YOUR children and to all who have and live with autism in Northern Ireland to be fair, equitable and fully cognisant of what is going on in the world of autism today. 

No longer can Northern Ireland be selective in terms of what it wants or does not want to know about autism. No longer can your children's education be based on someone's 'opinion'. No longer should you accept programs like AutismNI's 'keyhole' program. It's a marketing tool, developed to provide AutismNI with a 'brand', nothing else. Children who were unfortunate enough to have received this 'keyhole' program missed out on having a researched and evidenced based program with real and measurable outcomes.

The Keyhole program filled a  void 20 years ago when Northern Ireland was lost in terms of how to find help for children with autism and unfortunately, now, 20 years later, these programs are still being offered. They will continue to be offered until parents become informed.

The government does not provide ANY autism 'interventions' or treatments for autism whatsoever, even though it pretends otherwise.  Nothing they provide is based on sound science and they do not dare even use the word 'intervention' because they know they would be lying.  If you want evidence based interventions and treatments for your child's autism, and you live in N.Ireland, you must source and pay for them yourself.

Please read Dr Keenan's letter and take a cue from him to ask further questions of the system that continues to churn out autistic adult 'statistics' in Northern Ireland - adults who have no jobs, no independence, no skills, no hope for the future.