Research is crucial to care debate

We accept autism diagnoses as fact but must be open to different perspectives, writes Dr Tony Humphreys

IN ALL my work over the years in supporting families with their very real difficulties it has been clear to me that parents always do their best; it would be an act of neglect on my part to withhold information, because information is a very important source of support.

My intention in last Friday’s article was to give people information that has emerged in recent times in relation to troubling behaviours in children that are commonly called autistic spectrum disorders (ASD).

This ASD perspective has dominated and has been presented as fact. My goal was to show there is another perspective on this and that what has been presented as fact is not fact; it is simply a perspective. It is very important we hold an open mind and keep ourselves informed.

The seminal work in 2011 The Myth of Autism by Dr Sami Timimi, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, and his two colleagues provides very important findings from rigorous research and scientific enquiry. Incidentally, Dr Timimi and one of his co-authors had been diagnosed with ASD when they were children. In the interest of responding effectively and caringly to both children and their parents and teachers, it is crucial this research-based information be taken into account.

There are very important policy and care decisions involved here. If we can stay open to differ- ent perspectives and engage in mature debate, our chances of coming up with the best solutions for what are very real difficulties in family and school holding worlds increase enormously.

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