Reilly: Humphreys’ autism comments ‘outrageous’

Health Minister James Reilly has described recent comments made by clinical psychologist Dr Tony Humphreys about autism as “utterly outrageous”.

Dr Humphreys has been severely criticised for his article in the Irish Examiner which gave the impression parents were to blame for their child’s condition.

Speaking to TV3 yesterday, Dr Reilly, who has a 25-year-old autistic son, said the hurt caused by Dr Humphreys was “astonishing”.

“Well, it was utterly outrageous. The hurt that he has caused people is absolutely astonishing. I heard him on the radio the other day and I thought he compounded it by saying ‘I thought this was a good news story that parents wouldn’t have to worry or feel guilty about passing on their bad genes to their children’.

“What? Another utter insult to parents and, you know, I’ll say this to parents, let no one set a limit on your child’s horizon. Experts will come and experts will go, but you know your child and you know what your child needs and you know the help they need and keep fighting. We’ll support them,” Dr Reilly said.

Dr Humphreys has defended the article saying his intention was never to blame parents but to inform the public of the latest research in the field of autism. “My intentions were honourable.

“I wanted to inform the public of up-to-date research that is there. It was never my intention to hurt anybody. I have the greatest compassion for parenting. It is the most important profession we have in society and one which we get the least preparation for. We don’t prepare parents for the complexity of what is involved,” he said.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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