Comments ‘likely to cause upset’

The Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) has described as “unhelpful and likely to cause upset” comments by clinical psychologist Tony Humphreys that inferred parents of children with autism were to blame for their child’s condition.

Mr Humphreys made the comments in an article published in this newspaper a week ago. They have been criticised both by fellow experts and parents of children who have the condition.

“It is grossly inaccurate and demonstrated a clear ignorance of the most basic understanding of autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD),” said Brigid Sinnott, manager of ABA and Autism Services in St Catherine’s Association.

Dr Humphreys has since said parents were “never to blame” for autism and his intention was simply “to inform and enlighten”.

PSI president Michael Drumm said: “Tony Humphreys’ assertions are not supported by the vast body of published research in the field of ASDs and are unhelpful and likely to cause upset.”

Irish Examiner editor Tim Vaughan, in an editorial earlier this week, apologised for the hurt caused by Dr Humphreys’ comments.

“His comments have caused enormous upset for many parents and relatives of children with autism and I very much regret and am sorry for this,” said Mr Vaughan last night.

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