Saturday, May 19, 2007

Autism & ABA- Irish Education Minister Spins Old, Flawed Argument

Minister for Education & Science, Mary Hanafin T.D.

In reading news today from Ireland I had a strong sense of deja vu. Irish Education Minister Mary Hanafin persists in rejecting calls for ABA based education for Irish students with autism. Her argument? There are several suitable forms of education that are available in Ireland. The article does not provide any quotes or indications of what these several suitable forms might be and the Minister was criticized by a professional member of her own government's autism task force. In New Brunswick our Department of Education used similar arguments for several years to resist provision of ABA based education for autistic students for several years. ABA is heavily documented as an effective evidence based approach to educating students with autism. The mysterious "several suitable forms" other than ABA have yet to be documented.

The Minister for Education is coming under fire from a leading expert over her approach to dealing with autism.

Minister Mary Hanafin has repeatedly rejected calls from parents for the introduction of the expensive Applied Behavioural Analysis method for teaching autistic children.

Doctors say it is the most effective method, but Ms Hanafin is continuing to insist that there are several suitable forms of education that are available in Ireland.

Dr Rita Honan, a member of the department's own task force on autism, has now come out and said that the approach advocated by Ms Hanafin has no scientific basis and ABA has been proven to be more successful than any other teaching programme.

She also says the minister's stance makes no financial sense as the expensive ABA programme can lead to substantial savings in the long run

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