- Why She Stayed
- Belfast Telegraph Article Online
- Ryan has autism but he's adorable and makes me laugh every day
- Awareness, Acceptance, Action
- Vatican's Autism Message
- Soaring Autism Children
- Charlotte Moore on Autism
- The Good News According to Tony
- Half Hearted Apology from Irish Examiner
- Excuses Not Apology from Irish Examiner and Tony Humpreys
- Tony Humphreys in Irish Examiner- Parents to Blame for Asthma
- Irish Examiner Responds to "Autism Controvery"
- Tony Humphreys Toxic Autism Article
- Autism Ordure in Irish Examiner- Why Worry?
- Irish Examiner and Tony Humphreys- A New/Old Theory of Autism
- Books by the Boy
- Newspaper Article
- Hey Johnny Ball, how about an apology?
- Celebrate the New School
- Guardian Journalist Explains
- Obscure Blogger Vilifies Johnny Ball? No, Actually
- Creationism in the Ulster Museum?
- Blog Update
I posted on Facebook about the photos of Nigella Lawson having her neck squeezed by Charles Saatchi and called him a typical abusive creep for making a statement minimising his behaviour by describing it as merely a "playful tiff". One of my friends said "I just cannot understand why such a smart, beautiful and independently successful woman would have stayed with him throughout torment like this!" I thought about this and decided to respond here instead of on Facebook. I dont know why she stayed, only she can answer. But I would be very surprised if at least some of the reasons I shall list dont apply. So here is why she and people like her may stay: * It started out so slowly and insidiously that she didnt realise it was abuse until she was married or much later. * She thinks that she doesnt deserve better. * Shes afraid, confused, guilty and burdened by obligation. * Hes hurting and needs her love. She can heal him, its her duty to just keep giving. * She thinks shes to blame for most of what goes wrong- if she could stop being so emotional and weak things might improve. * She sees him behave properly in every other situation except with her- its her fault. * She minimises incidents, explosions, hurts and humiliations as soon as things get on a more even keel. * She feels embarrassed, thinks she overreacts, knows shes not perfect, thinks of herself as too argumentative and combatative. * She finds it hard to keep track of what happens. * She still feels love for her partner- it may turn out that the emotion could more accurately described as pity. * Shes frightened of change, of things getting even worse if she tries to end the relationship. * She cant imagine how things would be if the marriage ended. * Shes afraid of being alone. * Shes concerned about the impact on her children. * Shes afraid of what a man with wealth and power could do to her if she tries to leave him, how he could affect her reputation or career. Will he start telling people that shes mentally ill or unstable? * Sometimes its fun being with him, she remembers good times they shared, sometimes he acts as though he might actually love her. * He might apologise, promise that he loves her, hell change and do whatever it takes to make things ok, but that he cant do it without her. * Stockholm syndrome is real- the person causing the hurt may then take care of her, increasing the confusion, making her dependent on him and feeling like she couldnt possibly cope without him. * His promises keep lighting the hope that things will improve. Hope takes a long time to die. * Ending a marriage goes against all her values and principles, she thinks that she must fight harder to make it work, give it one more go, try to accept things or be more understanding. * Ending a marriage means admitting defeat- she must accept that she failed to either pick the right partner or to make a marriage work. She might feel shame especially if shes the only person this has happened to in her family. She might feel shame that people will blame other difficulties in her life for making marriage impossible.
All kinds of women and men can be in abusive relationships. Thankfully sometimes she recognises whats been happening, fights the denial, crushes false hope and with a heck of a lot of help, she gets out of it and makes a far better life without the abusive jerk. But it never stops stinging slightly when people ask "why did she stay?"
Quick post to share a link to the online version of Belfast Telegraph article about Ryan and me.
There was an article about Ryan (aka Duncan) and me in yesterdays Belfast Telegraph. Its based on a piece I sent in to promote the NAS. I managed to get lots of my personal philosophy on autism in there and Im well pleased with how it reads. Its not online yet so I scanned the article to share here.
From Belfast Telegraph autism article, May 8, 2012
From Belfast Telegraph autism article, May 8, 2012
Click on the picture to enlarge.
And my life is now complete, I have shared a page in a newspaper with Rocky.
World Autism Awareness Day and marks the start of Autism Acceptance Month. Awareness is a useless, nebulous concept. Only acceptance, action, understanding and support matter. I would like to see the day rebranded as Word Autism Action Day. I oppose the "Light it up blue" campaign for autism awareness as it is an Autism $peaks backed movement calling for funds to "research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism". Im not going to support an organisation dedicated to eradicating autism. However I am as impressed by the UN Secretary-Generals message for the day as I am critical of that from the Vatican. Leaving aside the unfortunate but ubiquitous puzzle-piece imagery illustrating the piece, Ban Ki-moon has a good understanding of autism and the needs of autistic people. He realises that autistic children become autistic adults, a simple enough concept you may think but one so often ignored:
"Our work with and for people with autism should not be limited to early identification and treatment; it should include therapies, educational plans and other steps that lead us towards sustained, lifelong engagement."I applaud all of his message but particularly like:
"Greater investments in the social, education and labour sectors are crucially important, since developed and developing countries alike still need to improve their capacities to address the unique needs of people with autism and cultivate their talents [...] World Autism Awareness Day is meant to spur such action and draw attention to the unacceptable discrimination, abuse and isolation experienced by people with autism and their loved ones. [...] Let us all continue to join hands to enable people with autism and other neurological differences to realize their potential and enjoy the opportunities and well-being that are their birthright."Its not what we have now but we can create this world. We autistic people, parents, friends and supporters, those who are accorded the label of allies; we are tough, tireless and committed. OK, we are in truth often exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated and worn down but we keep on going because we have to. We either know what needs to happen or know how to listen to those who have personal experience. We can advise, campaign, advocate and shake things up until its right. We can support each other, learn from each other and keep working on advancing the civil rights of autistic people. Today as on everyday, my boy will be happily autistic. I love him to his core, I dont wish a part of him away because that would leave a different child, not the one I gave birth to and have raised for almost 12 years. Today and always, I accept autism.
Theyve never heard of the social mode of disability down at the Vatican. This is a breathtakingly backwards view of autism. Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, get in touch and Ill set you straight on a few things. Heres his take on autism: "ON THE OCCASION OF THE FIFTH WORLD AUTISM DAY, THE CHURCH INTENDS TO EXPRESS HER NEARNESS TO THOSE WHO ARE BURDENED BY THE WEIGHT OF THIS PROFOUND SUFFERING. In large measure still to be explored, autistic spectrum disorders constitute, indeed, for those who are affected by them, a GRAVE ALTERATION of behaviour, of verbal and non-verbal communication, and of social integration, with a wide-ranging effect on the NORMAL DEVELOPMENT AND EVOLUTION OF THE PERSONALITY." (Emphasis mine) WHAT!? Such disdainful, othering language. The problem, Zimowski thinks, are the disordered, abnormal "gravely altered" autistic people. I wonder if he ever knowingly met an autistic person or did he just ask Tony Humphreys what theyre like? If he spent any time connecting with a few autistic people himself, he might realise how wrong he is when he says:
"In this pathological movement of self-envelopment and closure to the other and the external world, the Church sees as impelling the task of placing herself at the side of these people – children and young people in particular – and their families, if not to breakdown these barriers of silence then at least to share in solidarity and prayer in their journey of suffering. Indeed, this suffering, at times, also acquires features of frustration and resignation, not least because of the still scarce therapeutic results. These frustrations are to be seen, in particular, in families which, although they look after these children with loving care, experience repercussions as regards the quality of their own lives, and are often, in their turn, led to be closed up in an isolation that marginalises and wounds."Such florid nonsense. This is a 45 year old Bettelheim-era and utterly discredited vision of autism. Autism doesnt mean closure to the outside world. And what barriers of silence is he talking about? I know some autistic people who dont speak but none who are silent. Not all autistic people are children. Not all families with autistic members are closed up, marginalised and wounded. Zimowski continues:
"The Church and all people of good will thus feel committed to being ‘travelling companions’ with those who live this eloquent silence, which calls upon our sensitivity towards the suffering of others, following the emblematic example portrayed in the gospel parable of the Good Samaritan.""Eloquent silence". Oh wow. Its too awful to go through this line by line but heres a selection of words this pillar of the Catholic Church uses to talk about autistic people like my wonderful son. To the archbishop they have: * "a pathology which affects more people in numerical terms than could have been imagined only a few years ago" * "the gravest and most devastating disability" * "a grave psychological disturbance" And they are: * "people with autistic disturbances" * "enveloped in the mystery of silence" * "a living and transparent sign of the presence of the Resurrected Christ in the world." No Archbishop, they are people living with a disability in the same real and right-now world as everyone else. They deserve, like all people to be treated with kindness, respect and decency. They do not require your pity or your depction of them as disturbed and mysterious ciphers. They need to be listened to, understood and accepted. Its not difficult.
Soaring autism; I envision loads of autistic children running down a grassy slope, arms outstretched, pretending to be aeroplanes. A few who enjoy a good spinning session could be helicopters instead. But sadly thats not what this post is about.Last week, several newspapers published articles on increasing numbers of children in schools having diagnoses of autism. Among these were: * Daily Telegraph: Number of children with autism soars by more than 50 per cent in five years * Daily Mail: Number of schoolchildren classified as being autistic soars by 56% in five years * Irish Independent: Number of children with autism soars by more than 50pc in five years * Parentdish: Some parents claim their kids are autistic to gain advantage at school, claims expert I assume these identical articles, all laden with wailing and the gnashing of teeth due to the _burden of the dread autism_, were based on press releases from either the group featured prominently in each, The Centre for Real Education (CRE) or the contrary academic Frank Furedi whos personal views on autism are accorded much more weight than they deserve. The NAS has a useful, detailed and well referenced article about autism numbers and concludes "it appears that a prevalence rate of around 1 in 100 is a best estimate of the prevalence [of autism] in children". However these articles all open with a discussion of how the number of children in schools diagnosed with autism has doubled in the past and with current figures of approximately 1 in every 125 pupils. I fail to see the problem. Autism is a common condition. It was under-diagnosed for years, the criteria were much stricter so that many people who have a disability were not getting enough support. Now the criteria have been widened, there is better recognition of the condition and more children are getting accurate diagnoses. Furedi is quoted in each of the articles as saying,
"It is unlikely to be a genuine unprecedented increase in autism, rather an institutional use of this condition to allow people to get easier access to resources. This activity ends up trivialising what is a very serious condition for some children."Thats the opinion of a man with zero expertise in autism. He presents no facts to back up his claims and he can quite easily be ignored. The CRE spokesperson says,
"Obviously children with autism need special treatment. But the rapid increase does suggest that perhaps the figures should be looked at again. Children should not be classified as having special needs too easily. The rise should be examined closely because it has a knock-on effect for teachers, schools and the pupils themselves."
All children need special treatment. Children with a disability require accommodations to give them access to a good individualised education adapted to maximise their learning. This happens for some people but most autistic children in schools are not getting the support they deserve.
The CRE philosophy on education is set out here in their manifesto for common sense.
That title alone tells me much about how this group sees the world. They favour selective education, "meaningful punishment" for bad behaviour, traditional values, parental choice (for the kind of parents they approve of) and demand that lots of current progressive practices "should be halted." They want more emphasis on facts and knowledge and less on skills. They demand that art, music and literature lessons concentrate on approved classics.
They have a section on "Special Needs"
When the proportion of pupils with genuine special needs is probably only around 5%, the educational establishments acceptance of 20% or more is intolerable.
Clearly I checked out reference  to see where those numbers come from- and was baffled to find that it was an old article by Minette Marrin in the Daily Telegraph. _For real! _This is what counts as reference-worthy to the CRE. Minette Marin is one of those click-baiting troll columnists and Ive discussed her before after her vicious and hateful piece calling babies with Down Syndrome and their families "damaged babies" and "damaged families". The only other person in the CRE list of references with whom Im familiar is Melanie Phillips. This is speculation presented with no evidence that the needs of disabled children are being exaggerated. The CRE are not worth listening to. The NAS spokesperson makes a typically sensible contribution to the discussion:Recommendation: Immediate steps should be taken to reduce the artificially high percentage of special needs by ensuring that only those that are genuine are specified – and properly catered for. The widespread practice of exaggerating special needs to gain additional funding should be halted.
"We know that with accurate diagnosis the right support can be put in place so that children with autism can reach their full potential. It’s very likely that all teachers and school staff will come into contact with children with autism at some stage during their teaching career, so it’s vital that they receive quality training and strategies to support these children in the classroom."As usual the comment sections on these articles descend into a mire of anti-scientific, disablist nonsense. I cant imagine why the CRE and Frank Furedi were considered worth quoting on these matters. I wish the papers would look more closely at the people sending them stories and examine their agendas.
Theres a lovely article in the Guardian from Charlotte Moore about her 2 autistic sons. I always enjoy her writing on autism, its full of heart and truth and I can relate to much of what she says. I dont like her use of the word "autist" to describe her sons in this. Its a word that is best left for people to self-identify if they so choose, its presumptuous for a non-autistic person to use that term. She over-generalises traits her sons possess when she writes, "Autists can go for days without eating." Not so Charlotte. This made me laugh, "The autistic will is one of the most powerful forces known to man." Yep, I concurr. My favourite lines from the article follow:
"Dont compare. Whatever your autistic child is like, he or she is a complete person, an extraordinary being who experiences the world quite differently from you or anyone else." [...] "Parents sometimes mourn the child they feel theyve "lost" to autism, but this, I firmly believe, is an illusion. My sons were born autistic, and autistic they will always remain; my acceptance of that is wholehearted. If I had my time again, Id do some things differently, but I wouldnt be without them for the world."
I my previous post I wrote about the Tony Humphreys radio interview. I messed up the html somewhere and am unable to edit that post- even to add a title and there was another part of the interview I wanted to write about so I shall do so here. Tony Humphreys said something that cant be left unopposed. This is what he claimed was his _good news message_. He told the interviewer, Claire Byrne: "WHEN I WROTE THAT ARTICLE, CLAIRE, I THOUGHT THIS WAS GOOD NEWS. I THOUGHT THAT I WAS GOING TO ... THAT PARENTS WOULD BE RELIEVED ... "I HAVENT PASSED ANY NEUROBIOLOGICAL DEFECT ON TO MY CHILDREN, OR ANY GENETIC DEFECT." The news now is that there are creative possibilities if we examine everything in our own lives and our childrens lives, we may now discover, "Oh My God, this is what may help my child and myself to have a deeper relationship."" (Emphasis mine.) This is not good news. This is an outrageously disablist, callous and immoral position to hold. Tony Humphreys thinks we will be relieved at not having passed on our childrens conditions genetically. The corollary is that he thinks we out to feel shame if our children are born with a genetic condition (or DEFECT, to use his term) like Fragile X, or Huntingdons Disease, or Sickle Cell, or Down Syndrome -or autism. He has this bizarre idea that we will be pleased to know that our genes lack any of those icky, troublesome defects and it was just the way we failed to raise our children properly that caused all the trouble. But hey, here comes Tony with a solution- creative examinations to build deeper relationships- or something.
On Saturday I listened to Claire Byrne interview Tony Humphreys on the Marian Finucane show. It was the first media appearance the disgraced psychologist has made since publishing his vile column in the Irish Examiner, apart from some quotes in that paper in which he reiterated his notions while claiming he never intended to hurt anyone. (A transcript of the show has been made available on the Irish Autism Action Facebook page. I have used this but altered a few words to fit what I heard TH saying.) He was introduced as "consultant clinical psychologist Dr Tony Humphreys" though I have yet to see evidence that this title accurately describes his experience and training. When asked what he though of the reaction to his piece he replied:
"I was absolutely overwhelmed, because my intention was to bring good news to people but that somehow what I said was very much misinterpreted as my blaming parents and if anybody knows my work over the last 20 years I have always said parents always do their best. Parents never deliberately neglect their children. But we all come into our roles whether as parents or teachers or childminders, other adults [unclear] with our own hurts and our own unresolved issues and these operate at an unconscious level and whats been hugely missing from the whole controversy is that we operate unconsciously we never consciously want to hurt anybody, right, or neglect our children and not love our children."This cracks me up. Like a missionary, he sought to bring "good news" to the unenlightened. I cant wait to find out quite what this is. He then claims that all his many critics are at fault as we have "very much misinterpreted" his words. Nope, the problem isnt that we have poor reading comprehension, but that he wrote a terrible, parent-blaming, diagnoses-denying, inaccurate and illogical article. He says what is "hugely missing" is that we, the parents whom he reckons have the magical ability to train our children to be autistic, are doing this without being aware of our actions. Poor Tony, he seems to think we object to his twisted thesis because it hurts our feelings. Well it does, but thats not the point. We object because it is bollocks. When asked if he thinks parents can cause autism by being heartless he said:
"No because I dont ... I mean, Ive ... see I dont believe in autism and I concur with Dr Timimi that autism has not been established as a neurobiological fact, right. What I do believe, right, what, if anybody responds to you or me in a heartless way then we do react, right, and we find a way to protect ourselves and defend ourselves against that heartless reaction. But we do that unconsciously as well. It is not that we want to hurt the person that treats us unkindly, it is that we have a need within ourselves to be kindly met that now becomes unmet, so we retreat into a defence and what happens then is that defence meets defence and the whole thing escalates.""I DONT BELIEVE IN AUTISM"!!!!!! This is a position of faith, for this man evidence is irrelevant and facts dont count.
"I think one of the other things I want to say Claire, is that you know, eh, in my work over the last thirty years, ehm, my work has always been about compassion and understanding and empowerment of people and I was shocked, right, absolutely shocked at the level of hurt out there and, um, in my experience a huge sadness around that because I would never, never wanted to create that in any human being, right and so ... and also I have suffered my own hurt in, you know, in being seen as somebody who would want to cause hurt because actually its light years away from what I would want to do."Again with the self pity and the refusal to accept responsibility and the consequences for the harm and hurt he has caused. Instead he is sad at how he has been seen- such a consciously selfish and immature reaction. He continued to try to justify his self-serving behaviour as "opening a debate". No he isnt, he is disagreeing with well established explanations of autism, that are backed up with proper research and evidence. The interviewer played a tape of Dr Timimi saying that he absolutely does not take the position Tony Humphreys does on autism. Humphreys was unrepentant, and when asked about how, unlike Timimi, he is "pointing the finger at parents" he said:
"Um no, well not only at the parents right, but its not pointing the finger, in other words ... Ive worked with many parents over the years, children ... parents with children. Labelling them with ASD, ADHD and the other labels that children get, right, and when parents come to me, I hold ... that I ... if they are in troubled places, my first response is to where they are at, right, and to look at what they are carrying and the hurts theyre carrying and to resolve those hurts. As those hurts are resolved, they automatically change in their relationship with their children. Now its not just parents who are in relationships with children. Every one of us is in a relationship with children and that old village, that old African saying, "it takes a village to raise a child" is so accurate because it takes a whole society to raise a child and child minders and teachers and peer groups all affect childrens concepts of themselves."So he accepts that he blames parents and all adults involved in raising children but somehow thinks this is not pointing the finger because, presumably, all these errant adults and failing their children unconsciously. The thing that Tony doesnt seem to get, is that neglecting children will harm them, but it wont make them autistic! People who are autistic were not made that way by how their parents raised them. He reiterated his notion that we the parents of autistic people, need to get over ourselves and sort our own issues:
"But we all carry baggage, we all have major defences and unless we get the holding in relationships, we dont examine our defences, and to examine our defences is very challenging in a judgemental culture."After more waffle he passed judgement on how we fail to respond to our childrens communication. Understanding and enabling our childrens ability to communicate more effectively is one of the most important thing parents and teachers of autistic children can do. But we learn how to do that by talking to people who understand autism- autistic people being the most important teachers of all. We can also learn for experienced speech and language therapists, teachers and professionals. Tony Humphreys pontificated at some length on his own quaint notions about autism and developmental disability. He shared an anecdote about a woman who "realised that she hadnt been making eye contact with her child." He claimed that babies "make the most amazing eye contact with us, right, because they need us first to see them and to respond to them." My autistic son never made eye contact with me as a baby. His non-autistic siblings both did. All three were breast fed for over a year and I gazed adoringly at each one as I held them. Duncan was unable or uninterested at that age, of looking back. It was innate in him even as an infant. Tony Humphreys denies that is possible. Tony Humphreys lists a few names of people whom he claims agree with him but ignores the proper peer-reviewed scientific research, then he said:
"theres a whole huge body of research out there. But I can understand, right, that people who have believed a certain thing for many years, its very difficult now to have that suddenly challenged, right, and I have no trouble with sitting with these people and hearing where they are coming from once they also give me the freedom to also to say where I am coming from"I doubt that Tony Humphreys would really want to sit with me and hear where Im coming from. He pulls a freedom of speech defence too, asking us to allow him to say his piece. Sure, he can hold whatever bizarre notions he wants, he can think that autism is caused by extraterrestrials if he wants, he just shouldnt teach that at a reputable university, to influence people who may well work with these disabled children, or to be held up as an expert and given a column in a national newspaper. My dog knows more about autism than Tony Humphreys. The best bit of the interview occurred when he had a quote from his article read back to him and he said it was "a total misinterpretation of what [he] said" and that he wasnt "playing word games with anybody!" Classic! He ended with his line about opening debate and the interview ended so the good people of Ireland could worship some bells. Today the Irish Minister for Health, James Reilly, who has an autistic son, publicly condemned Tony Humphreys (link opens video). So now the Health Minister, all the Irish autism charities, huge numbers of parents and autistic people, the Psychological Society of Ireland, a raft of experienced and respected autism professionals and researchers, the two men named in the original article- all stand united in their criticism of Tony Humphreys. Hilariously, in the video linked to above, we learn that Tony Humphreys encourages the Minister and all parents of autistic children to read the up-to-date literature on autism. The bare-faced cheek of the scoundrel! He doesnt regret speaking out on what he BELIEVES is the truth. Again with the faith Tony! Id ask Tony Humphreys to do the same. Im much better informed than he is and very much wish he would heed his own words. Then he needs to apologise and retire from making public pronouncements on autism and all medical conditions.
The Irish Examiner today repeated the half-apology they made on Tuesday but have still failed to retract the article. An article is published in which they share the Psychological Society of Irelands condemnation of the article and their disagreement with Humhreys views.
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."ENOUGH of the guff about what Tony Humphreys intentions were- lots of people do harm unintentionally but they should still be held to account. Here comes the apology bit:
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.This is a classic non-apology. Tim Vaughan is sorry, not for the actions of his paper, but for the reactions we have had to it and I do not need Tim Vaughan to apologise for me. I think it is the best we can hope to get from this newspaper. I think they have a very skewed sense of decency and ethics. Tony Humphreys is back writing his pcychobabble column in todays Irish Examiner Feelgood section. And again his topic of choice is "love." I have not had a chance to read it yet but have it good authority that it adheres to the mans usual standards of expression, logic and accuracy. asthma, IBS, cancer, schizophrenia, tonsillitis. The Irish Examiner have taken his columns on IBS and asthma down from their site. Yet they still employ him to write as an expert in their health supplement. I find this astonishing. The Irish Examiner have a very skewed sense of journalistic integrity and ethics. However I read that Alan Crosbie, chair of the group which publishes the paper, at a recent conference on media diversity in Dublin, called on the governmant to:
"address the threat to humanity posed by the tsunami of unverifiable data, opinion, libel and vulgar abuse in new media.”Isnt it ironic.
The saga continues. The Irish Examiner today have Tony Humphreys words in their paper, as both the paper and the disgraced "psychologist" attempt once again to excuse the damaging and error-laden autism article. Unfortunately they do not offer an apology or a retraction. In direct opposition to the what they published on Friday, todays piece has the title, "Parents ‘never to blame’ for autism." and is by Conall Ó Fátharta. Well Conall, thats been known for about 50 years, but nice of the Examiner to finally catch up.
Tony Humphreys needs to be clearer- he needs to say, "On Friday I had an article published in which I directly and unequivocally claimed that bad parenting causes autism.I was wrong and I apologise." Because that is what happened. This is just more bullshit spin. He was not attempting to "inform and enlighten" he was making a claim he had zero evidence for.Dr Tony Humphreys said parents were "never to blame" for autism and his intention was simply "to inform and enlighten" the public of research in the area.
He has been severely criticised for his article in last Friday’s Irish Examiner which gave the impression parents were to blame for their child’s condition. Yesterday, he said he never intended "to hurt anybody".The article did more than "[give] the impression parents were to blame for their child’s condition" in the article he made his opinion perfectly clear- parents are to blame for their childs condition. Tony Humphreys is quoted:
"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."I care not what his intentions were, Im interested in the facts and the very real effects. If he hadnt intended to hurt anyone he should not have written his toxic, damaging article. He did _not _inform the public of up-to-date research, he was rehashing a theory comprehensibly discredited _50 years ago_.
Dr Humphreys said he simply wished to show research that had proposed a broader examination of autism rather than focusing on it as simply a genetic neurobiological disorder. "There are complexities and intricacies of family life that didn’t come through in what has been said. "What I wanted to inform people of is that we need to look at children in a broader sense and look at every aspect of their lives, every relationship they have, at their social and economic experiences, rather than just focusing on a hypothetical, neurobiological defect. "I wanted to point out that we should look at every aspect of a child’s life in order to truly understand why children behave a certain way," he said.Tony Humphreys informed people of nothing but his own prejudice and ignorance. He may have seen this going differently in his imagination but thankfully, I dont live in Tony Humphreys head and the reality is, he hasnt a clue what current research says. His buff about looking into the families of children with autism counts for nothing. Is he going to have someone poke into the "complexities and intricacies" of everyones family life? We know from his other writings that he thinks parents cause all sorts of conditions from IBS to asthma, so Tony Humphreys would probably say yes, lets examine the dynamics of every family in the country and check they adhere to some state mandated level of love and support. Thats bound to work.
At a public meeting in Cork last night, a mother of a five-year-old boy with autism confronted him but he refused to elaborate on what he had written in the Irish Examiner, and said he had already given his response to criticism.Well done that mum. He has given a response, but it is totally inadequate.
Dr Tony Humphreys responded to comments on blogs and social media websites which questioned his professional background. He pointed out he had a BA (hons) and MA (hons) in applied psychology from UCC and a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Birmingham. Dr Humphreys worked for eight years with Mid-Western Health Board psychiatric services and for two years in Staffordshire Health Authority in Britain. He also has 20 years’ experience as a courses director and lecturer in UCC.His qualifications do not protect him from justifiable criticism. Parents of autistic children, autistic people themselves and professionals with a real knowledge and understanding of the condition are united in their criticism of his piece. Knowledgeable, experienced and skilled psychologists, both educational and clinical, have expertise on autism and can be incredibly helpful to families. I have had valuable input from these professionals at various stages. Tony Humphreys is bringing the profession into disrepute. Parents may be put off using their services in fear of finding others with stone age views like Humphreys. I also am very concerned that a man with his views is allowed to teach anyone and the reputation of UCC is damaged by its connection with this man.
I wondered why the Irish Examiner editorial was so keen to protect Tony Humphreys and to continue to promote him as a "highly experienced and well-regarded clinical psychologist, successful author, and broadcaster." Then I discovered he is a regular columnist in their Feel Good heath supplement. I read a few more of his column, they usually say the same thing- parents dont love their children unconditionally, indeed bad parenting abounds and causes all ills. Here is his take on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The PDF file linked to may not open, but I have saved a copy.
AS REGARDS IBS, WHEN EXPLORING THE PSYCHO-SOCIAL ASPECTS OF THE DIS-EASE (WORD READS MORE ACCURATELY WHEN HYPHENATED), IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE PSYCHO-SOCIAL INTENTIONS OF THE DIS-EASE WILL BE DIFFERENT FOR EACH PERSON WHO HAS THE CONDITION AND THAT FOR A PARTICULAR PERSON THE INTENTIONS WILL DIFFER EACH TIME THE SYMPTOMS REOCCUR.FOR INSTANCE, THE UNMET NEEDS OF A SUFFERER OF IBS WHEN A CHILD OR A TEENAGER WILL BE VERY DIFFERENT TO THOSE THE PERSON HAS WHEN ADULT. UNMET NEEDS — PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, SOCIAL, SEXUAL, INTELLECTUAL, BEHAVIOURAL — ARE THE SOURCES OF MOST PROBLEMS IN LIVING, LACK OF LOVING BEING THE MOST COMMON. (Emphasis mine.)He also pontificates on asthma. Asthma is a serious and potentially fatal condition. According to Asthma UK, on average, 3 people per day or 1 person every 8 hours dies from asthma. Only experienced and properly qualified people ought to write as experts on such a condition. But here is non-expert Tony Humphreys writing in the Irish Examiner and giving his unique "perspective" on asthma:
Again the PDF link I give isnt working for everyone but I have copied the article and taken screengrabs.The causes of asthma are not known and the suggestion of a genetic link is too remote to be seriously considered. Certainly, environmental causes have been posited — dust mites, pollution, over-heated homes — but these don’t ring true because most people who are exposed to these same physical environmental threats do not develop asthma.The environmental threats that are far more prevalent for children are emotional and social. The home is the most dangerous place for children to be — the threats they may daily encounter are physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual, behavioural and social — the greatest of all being the absence of unconditional love.
This is so dangerous and wrong. Tony Humphreys is a menace and the Irish Examiner has even more explaining to do.
After all our letter writing, tweeting and blogging, the Irish Examiner today published their response. It is wholly inadequate. They have published an editorial basically saying that they were correct to publish the article because, they say, in a democratic society, everyone has the right to their opinion. Its nice of them to offer us all a civics lesson. I shall however, examine their editorial in detail. They published wonderful letters from parents and people critical of the article. There was also a letter from Waterford music therapist, Jim Cosgrove in agreement with Humphreys. I wonder is he has any autistic children as clients. I wonder if he still will after today. There is an excellent article by Kevin Whelan, the chief executive of Irish Autism Action, refuting the article and describing the reality of parents and families struggling and coping as best they can with unbounded love and determination. Lastly, Tony Humphreys is once again given a platform for his opinion in a piece entitled, "Research is crucial to care debate." Research is, conjecture aint.
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.It is now clear to him that_ parents always do their best_, a far cry from the defamatory statements he made on Friday about how parents seek help for their children only to avoid looking into their "own emotional and social struggles" and that we "often need more help than [our autistic children] do." But what is this information he has such a duty to impart?
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.Aw here, why are all of us who have autistic family members getting so stressed, hes only wanting to offer a new perspective. We may have struggled for years to have our concerns about our children taken seriously, and may have navigated the complex diagnostic system and sat with our children through many difficult multidisciplinary assessments before they received the diagnosis. But we shouldnt be so damned closed minded, we ought to listen to Dr Tony- there are no facts, there are only _perspectives_! Duh, it must be those broader autistic phenotyoes some of us have that limit us to black and white thinking. We probably believe in gravity and the germ theory of disease, dismissing all alternative perspectives! This is preposterous, Tony Humphreys is rejecting reality.
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.Oh its a seminal work! Can I argue with that. Well, yes. The authors he places so much faith in disagree with his assertions, saying "We are NOT saying any of the following: 1. Autism is a condition caused by poor parenting." Moreover, real scientists refer to peer reviewed scientific publications from respected journals when citing research, not popular science books. Mike Stanton has explained, the book was only "a mixture of reviews of certain areas and detailed analysis of particular papers." Humphreys concludes;
There are very important policy and care decisions involved here. If we can stay open to different 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.
Basically, he has taken lots of words to say very little. Why should policy and care decisions be influenced in any way by the discredited model of autism Humphreys promotes? You may as well have astrologers running the judiciary. Nonsensical.
Worse yet is the editorial from the Irish Examiner: "The right to an opinion."
They acknowledge that people were hurt and angered by the article, and mention the criticism they faced then go on to make much of Tony Humphreys credentials as an expert:
Dr Humphreys is a highly experienced and well-regarded clinical psychologist, successful author, and broadcaster.They mention their "record of campaigning for the rights and services for people with an intellectual disability" and finish:
While we regret and are sorry for the obvious hurt caused by Dr Humphreys’ comments, we stand by his right to freedom of expression in a democratic society, just as we would support the rights of others to disagree with and criticise his views and criticise us for having published them.So basically, were sorry you lot took offence and complained because we were only doing our democratic duty to give this dude a platform to express his views. What Id like to know is, given that they have mentioned his expert status, and that his article was published in a health supplement, why are they now portraying it as just one mans opinion? So which was it, expert reportage or opinion? The piece was ridden with errors, not one bit of it stands up to any kind of scrutiny. Even the Cambridge researcher mentioned by name has called the piece "offensive" and said it "turns the clock back 50 years". Tony Humphreys does not have the right to create a loads of "facts" that are harmful to so many people. Clearly despite the credentials the Irish Examiner is so in awe of, Humphreys is no expert on autism. In fact if that is the level of journalistic standards they adhere to, why dont they get me to write farming reports, or as my friend Lisa suggested, David Irving on foreign policy. If it is just opinion, and the Examiner feels it is their democratic duty to publish any opinion no matter how factually incorrect, toxic, damaging and hurtful, can I expect to see a parade of bigots getting their chance to have their views aired in a major newspaper? Because after all, we have the right to disagree and criticise them for publishing. This editorial has made a bad situation worse. This is not over.
Tony Humphreys awful article has been criticised in several places. Lisa wrote how reading it made her feel she had:
stepped into a time warp that has taken us back to the 1950s when Autism was blamed on so-called "refrigerator mothers" whose coldness towards their children caused them to be developmentally delayed and socially withdrawn.She also makes an important point about Humphreys academic pursuits:
Disturbingly I found out today that he lectures on "interpersonal communications" and "parent mentoring" at University College Cork. So potentially there is a student being indoctrinated with these ideas right now.I have emailed the VICE PRESIDENT FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING AT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK AND The Centre for Adult Continuing Education, asking them to investigate this matter, writing:
Dr Humphreys even goes so far as to assert in his article that the very existence of autism is not a scientific fact, an utterly ridiculous assertion. These are toxic, false and damaging ideas. It is very worrying that a university of such repute would allow someone holding these views to teach particularly on courses taken by parents and those training to work as Special Needs Assistants.I look forward to hearing their response. I had emailed Professor Simon Baron-Cohen yesterday to alert him to the misrepresentation of his research in Tony Humphreys article. He was kind enough to reply that he was going to tweet a public response; http://tiny.cc/ffxg8" It doesnt look good for Tony Humphreys when the researcher he quoted in support of his theory is willing to condemn his article publicly. Where I focussed on the inaccuracies of his article and the harm they will do to parents, especially of newly diagnosed children, Siobhan O’Neill wrote about growing up with her autistic twin brother, demonstrating clearly how nonsensical Humphreys notion that a parent can make their child autistic really is. Another post at Three Mile Limit took issue with factual errors in Humphreys article and offered to give him a name for his hypothesis, "_Refrigerator Cousin._" Mike Stanton examined more closely Humphreys claim that the "Myth of Autism" book he referenced backs up his notions and found that not even this was true:
Skip to page page 293 when the authors clearly stateBock the Robber writes about Humphreys former role as a cleric:We are NOT saying any of the following: 1. Autism is a condition caused by poor parenting.That is concurring with Humphreys attack on parents who possess few or no heart qualities? It seems only right that ill-written books should be ill-read. But, bad as it is, The Myth of Autism does not deserve to be as badly read as it was by Tony Humphreys, if he read it at all.
the denunciation of parents in the article of Tony Humphreys has a smell of clericalism about it. This article sounds a lot like the sort of judgemental nonsense we heard from priests and bishops over many years.After listing the errors in the Examiner article he makes a valid point:
If youre a scientist, present your research. Publish your research papers. List the peer-reviewed publications youve produced. If youre not a scientist, dont presume to talk about things you dont understand.If only we lived in a world where it worked like this. The last post I have noticed is by Magnumlady who writes:
We are living in a world where it’s hard to get by if you have a disability (especially an unseen one) and are trying to get people to understand about autism. It’s not helped by articles like this.I quite agree. Many people have expressed their hurt and shock at the Irish Autism Action Facebook page where the article was transcribed. Eventually The Irish Examiner made a response, of sorts. This afternoon they released the following on twitter:
I was asked- why bother asking for a retraction and an apology for the vile Irish Examiner article by Tony Humphreys. I agree that any apology the disgraced psychologist gives would most likely be insincere. I still think it is important to contact the newspaper that opted to actually publish his outrageous and damaging piece. I want to draw attention to what this man has said, to explain clearly all the things he got wrong in his article. That his words were published in a newspaper will give them a veneer of truth and respectability to many people. I have been in touch with a few people whose children have only recently been diagnosed with autism and who were particularly upset by the article. In those early days you are dealing with so much; coming to terms with changed expectations, the knowledge that your child faces difficulties typically developing children dont, learning about disability and your childs rights and how to navigate the complex worlds of benefits and special education. Currently it is harder than ever as cuts and reduced services make everything such a battle and people are struggling to adapt and survive. These parents have not yet developed a thick skin like those of us well accustomed to the charlatans who use autism to advance their agendas. The quacks have no regard for how they will affect people living with autism or those who love them. It can come as a shock at first when you read about how awful your life is, how damaged your children, how they are to blame for all your problems- or, with retrogrades like Tony Humphreys, how you are to blame for all their problems. This article was so bad though it even hurt many of us hardened old-timers. It hurt to hear a so-called professional get it so very wrong about our families, to slander us by claiming that instead of doing our best for our child/children with a neurological condition causing developmental delay, we caused it. And we caused it by failing at the one thing that matters most to us- our parenting. He tells the world that we are cold and unloving, that we seek help for our children to avoid our own issues. What tosh. Now having a disabled child certainly doesnt make anyone a perfect parent. Ive witnessed some bad behaviour from the parents of autistic children in my time among the online autism communities. But were just like any other set of people, were fallible, some good some bad and most trying our best to be good enough. By issuing an apology, The Irish Examiner could go some way towards making ammends to all the people they have hurt. I wrote the following to the editor:
I wish to respond to the article "Core Connection" by Tony Humphreys and published on 3 February 2012. This article author propagates damaging and discredited ideas of autism causation. It is accepted by all professionals of repute that autism is a neurological condition associated with developmental delay. It is not, despite what Tony Humphreys professes without evidence, the result of children "defending themselves against the absence of expressed love and affection and emotional receptivity." Blaming parents causes pain to people already struggling to raise their children in a time of cut-backs and reduced services. Parents of newly diagnosed children will be especially vulnerable to these outrageous and contemptuous accusations against them. Tony Humphreys even goes so far as to assert that the very existence of autism is not a scientific fact, an utterly ridiculous assertion. He is no brave maverick going against the tide of received wisdom, he is a mere crank. The author is either courting controversy to sell books and gain more media exposure and is using your paper to promote himself, or he is setting himself up in a new career as a provocateur columnist. Either way, he and your paper, are trampling all over the families of autistic children. I shall expect you to publish an apology and a full retraction of this article, and to give space to a proper autism professional to explain just how wrong Tony Humphreys was. I shall also expect to see the parents of autistic people given space to explain just how loving and close their families are.I have also contacted Professor Baron-Cohen to alert him to how his work has been twisted to fit Humphreys notions. I now think that Humphreys is hoping to not just promote himself and his book at the expense of autistic children, he is hoping to gain customers seeking to redress their failures as parents and fix their children. The biomedical quackery industry have seen parents willing to subject their children to all sorts of unproven and dangerous "therapies" when told it would lead to a cure. The psychoanalysts want some of that action. In order to sell their services, they have to convince enough parents that the cause of their childrens autism is known and fixable. What I fear now is seeing Tony Humphreys making a tour of TV and radio stations, promoting himself, his book and his ability to cure the children currently "misdiagnosed" as autistic. I hope the media will do the right thing and refrain from giving this man further publicity.
Ive been justifiably angry often lately. First there is the Welfare Reform Bill that will cause real harm to disabled people and those already poor and vulnerable. Much of the media and many politicians have been busy spinning the truth about peoples lives and impairments to portray people who require support as scroungers and layabouts, out to milk the system. Then there was the quack clinic, purporting to prevent and cure autism in infants showing "pre-autistic traits" and which received uncritical publicity in the media because celebrity Melanie Sykes gives it support. But with this my ire boils over and if I dont blog a bit to release the pressure, I fear I may blow. A man called Tony Humphreys has written an article available in the print edition of The Irish Examiner on February 3 2012. The article has been reproduced in full here. Humphreys describes himself as "Ireland’s most influential psychologist" and he runs courses at University College Cork and All Hallows College, Dublin. To read his article however, you would be forgiven for thinking he has absolutely zero knowledge or experience of autism. It ranks as one of the worst and most detestable diatribes relating to autism I have had the misfortune to read and given that I have been examining the world of autism quackery and myth for 10 years, thats really something special. He starts by referring to the work of Professor Simon Baron-Cohen and the Cambridge Autism Research Centre saying that "the children and grandchildren of engineers were more likely to be autistic." But then Humphreys expresses _shock_ that these researchers are "_assuming that autism is a scientific fact_". Yes really, we can stop right here and know that Irelands most
self-regarding "influential" psychologist has the gall to call into question that THE VERY EXISTENCE OF AUTISM. The latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is currently being produced. Perhaps Humphreys should contact them and inform them to leave autism out since he clearly knows something all the other professionals dont.
Though he has already shown himself to be ignorant of autism science, I shall soldier on because Humphreys decides now to slander all parents of autistic children but also all engineers and scientists by claiming that as we all "live predominanently in [our] heads and possess few or no heart qualities, [our] children will need to find some way of defending themselves against the absence of expressed love and affection and emotional receptivity".
The Irish Examiner has thought it right to publish an article in which the author denies the existence of autism _and _claims that the children currently diagnosed as such are merely reacting to their cold and loveless upbringings.
After all, the deepest need of every child is to be unconditionally loved and the absence of it results in children shutting down emotionally themselves because to continue to spontaneously reach out for love would be far too painful. Childrens wellbeing mostly depends on emotional security - a daily diet of nurture, love, affection, patience, warmth, tenderness, kindness and calm responses to their expressed welfare and emergency feelings. To say that these children have a genetic and/or neurobiological disorder called autism or ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) only adds further to their misery and condemns them to a relationship history where their every thought and action is interpreted as arising from their autism.This is a rehash of the comprehensibly discredited "refrigerator mother" hypothesis of autism. The truth is that autism is LIFELONG DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITY THAT AFFECTS HOW A PERSON COMMUNICATES WITH, AND RELATES TO, OTHER PEOPLE. HUMPHREYS NEXT ASSERTS THAT PARENTS SEEK HELP FOR THEIR AUTISTIC CHILDREN TO AVOID EXAMINING THEIR "own emotional and social struggles. ... it is their adult carers who often need more help than they do." Humphreys further exposes his ignorance by distinguishing incorrectly between "the autism described by psychiatrist Leo Kanner in 1943 and the much more recently described ASD (autistic spectrum disorder, often referred to as Aspergers syndrome)." These two are the same thing. He next spins the gender differences in autism diagnoses to fit his notion of autism as caused by cold, unloving parents. Mike Stanton blogged about the Sami Timimi book Humphreys refers to next. Read Mikes post for a thorough assessment of Timminis assertion that the autism "label should be abolished". Humphreys concludes:
The authors are not saying that the children are not emotionally and socially troubled. What they are saying is - and I concur with them - that focus needs to be on the relationship contexts of these childrens livews, and to take each child for the individual he or she is and to examine closely the family and community narratives and discover creative possibilities for change and for more dynamic and hopeful stories to emerge for both the children and their carers.
_Dr Tony Humphreys is a consultant clinical psychologist, author and national and international speaker. His book All About Children" is relevant to todays article. _Humpreys decries the autism industry, though he clearly wants a bit of that action for himself. He has a book out that is "relevant to todays article" and it sounds like he reckons we need people like him to examine our narratives. Nought like a spot of old fashioned psychoanalysis to sort out our selfish ways, eh Tony? Or perhaps Tony Humphreys is just looking for a spot of provacateur columnist work like Kevin Myers, Rod Liddle, Jan Moir and Liz Jones. Either way both he and the Irish Examiner should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. I shall expect a retraction and an apology.
Lately the boy has been drawing and editing pictures using his huge cast of characters to tell stories. Hes fascinated by heroes and villains and works through his ideas via photos, videos and drawings. He made a book by printing out the following pictures, cutting and tapping the pages together. It looked perfect. I wanted to store and share these pages Duncan (to resurrect his old blog name) created. He is Robin 3D/Ryan, his friend is Zunarmy/Isaac and his brother is Sezon. Front cover Cast of characters
Im copying the recent article here as I dont expect it will stay on the newspapers website for long. Sharon Fennell and her son Ryan on a flight to Orlando last year Published on Thursday 30 June 2011 09:12 A local mum and member of the National Autistic Society Northern Ireland wants to help other parents/carers of autistic children get the most out of the school holidays and increase people’s understanding of autism. HELEN MCGURK finds out more SCHOOL summer holidays can present a real challenge for parents of children with autism in Northern Ireland. People with autism often encounter significant barriers in communication, social situations and making sense of the world around them. Co Down mum Sharon Fennell whose 11-year-old son Ryan has autism explained: “The schools here close for two months in the summer. While we can use this time to meet new people, and enjoy new experiences, many children with autism rely heavily on a routine and the change can be disorientating. Some children and young people find coping without their normal routine frightening and upsetting and for many, the sensory overload can sometimes be tough for a child with autism. “Parents of a child with autism want them to have a fantastic summer but when days don’t go so well you can feel isolated and even a bit of a failure. I’d like parents of a child with autism to know that there are at least 35,000 mums and dads in Northern Ireland who have similar experiences and great advice to share. Many of them are members of the local Northern Ireland branches of the NAS.” Sharon has a request for people who may not be aware of the condition. “Sometimes when you’re out and about in the holidays and your child is confronted with the unexpected or when they are overloaded with sensory information, they can panic and react in quite a dramatic way. It can be difficult when it happens in a public place. Autism isn’t readily visible, so to an outside observer it can look like your child is just being naughty when they are actually struggling hard to understand what’s going on around them. “Some people stop and stare and even make thoughtless comments while you are busy and doing your best to support and calm your child. Their disapproval only adds to what can be an already difficult situation. When we’re sharing public spaces it would be lovely for people to understand that people of all kinds have a right to exist and be out and about.’’ Sharon added: “If more people understood and knew about autism, they would recognise what is really going on when my child is struggling, they would see that he is not merely “bold” and appreciate that he and I are doing our absolute best in tricky circumstances. That would so much more helpful than judging me or my son. It would be lovely if people could show a little more kindness, smile, and maybe even ask, “is there anything I can do to help?” That would be truly heroic!” Sharon has some simple advice that can help families get the most out of the summer break. “My top tip is to create some type of structure for the holidays. “It helps my son to have an idea of what to expect each day. We write all our big events like holidays, birthdays, summer scheme days and when school starts back on the family calendar and he likes to look ahead and get an overall picture of what will be happening. His father lives in a different house and it helps him to know in advance when we will be staying there so all this information is marked on the calendar so he can access it. “Each evening, we talk about what will happen the next day. When he was younger and had less verbal ability, I would draw pictures describing the day ahead in comic strip form. I’d sometimes also use picture cards and photos attached to a board with velcro or blue tac. As he got older I was able to write a list of the day’s tasks and events. It still helps him to have this list to focus on.’’ Sharon said when going places it pays to prepare and plan ahead as much as possible. ‘‘It helps to make sure I will be able to get my son food he enjoys or to bring some with me. I like to know possible problematic areas; when he was younger it was difficult to go anywhere that sold pic’n’mix sweets and he thought those plastic jars and scoops were an open invitation to small sticky hands and keeping him away was difficult. “Some places allow carers to enter free when accompanying a disabled person; it’s always worth asking what discounts are available. When we go somewhere busy like a theme park, I tend to dress Ryan in a distinctive top that I would recognise from afar. I made a few t-shirts with slogans that inform people of his autism in a positive and funny way, or he may wear a lanyard around his neck with his NAS membership card on one side and my phone number and a slogan like “awesome autistic dude!” on the other. These help people to recognise that this child has a disability and I find the vast majority of people are more considerate and sensitive when they are aware.’’ Shirelle Stewart, co-director of National Autistic Society Northern Ireland said: “Children with autism want to have friends, go on outings and have fun in the summer holidays, just like any other child. Acceptance and understanding from the public can make holiday times less stressful for children with autism and their families and help them get the most out of their summer break.” The National Autistic Society Northern Ireland provides a wide range of advice, information, support and specialist services to people with autism and their families. For further information contact: 028 9068 7066 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Johnny, old friend. Youve been leading those poor gullible journalists a merry dance, havent you, you old rogue?! Perhaps you never expected them to be so lazy that they wouldnt check what you claimed and learn for themselves that it was much ado about nothing? But what can we say, theyre probably humanities graduates, cant be doing with all that old evidence nonsense eh! How did you come to find my blog post anyway? A Google search of your name didnt link here in the 1st 4 pages and I gave up after that, you must have gone deep to get to that post! I admire your stamina. But somehow, you came upon my (as it was) retired blog. It would be obvious to anyone that its hardy influential; presidents and popes dont hang on my every word. Well you dug deeper than any journalist and found it. But if your quotes to journalists or the content of your own blog on what it contained are anything to go by, you didnt read the post. If this was an English comprehension test, youd have failed. See, on the post, a commentor wrote that you are "not a man who should go anywhere near children with [your] ideas. [You are] not a man of reason and evidence but a ranting old lunatic." Now I dont fully agree with that, but a I tolerate a certain amount of dissenting opinion on my blog. The person who wrote it is entitled to think that if s/he wishes and it wasnt so extreme an opinion that I was unwilling to host it on my space. That person thinks your ideas on climate are so unscientific and extreme that you should not be given a platform to express them to children. I dislike the disablism of the "lunatic" slur. Its inaccurate and unfortunate but thats anonymous commentors for you. No doubt it bugged you to be described as such. Perhaps you were offended at my characterisation of you as a "silly old duffer" and "cranky in [your] old age"? Youve been in the public eye for decades, Im sure you know celebrities and those in the public eye are subject to criticism. Its not all fawning admiration all the time. But unlike me, you have the ear of the mass media and you jolly well milked it. On Feb9 2011 you wrote on your blog:
on a Northern Ireland Blog, The Family Voyage, which prides itself on winning some Blog Award, flagged JohnnyBall and featured the statement, “Johnny Ball should not be allowed near children.” Being near to children has been my career for over 50 years. As yet I cannot contact them, as their site is only open to known members?? (Their flagged Johnny Ball link has now miraculously disappeared) Their beef is that I dared suggest in 2009 on NI Radio that Sammy Wilson as Energy Minister was right when he refused to air “Carbon Trust” TV commercials, one of which showed a very young child being told a story of a drowning world through climate change. Following complaints to the Advertising Authorities, these ads were found “guilty of exaggeration and alarmism over climate change” and were ordered to be dropped. So that would indicate that I was totally justified in condemning them? Anyone who knows me and my career, must know that I have never done anything that in any way would harm a single child. I defy anyone to find anything that I have done in my career that, were it publicly known, would harm my reputation.You lied about the content on my blog and you lied saying the link had disappeared. You went on to lie to the newspapers; the TES, the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the Daily Express, the Daily Telegraph- all quoted you making similar slurs about the blogger who supposedly implied that youre a paedophile. You mislead these poor precious journalists into thinking it was part of a blogger campaign against you, carried out by some climate change lobby. You lied also when you implied that my post was removed after a police investigation. I was never contacted by the police and the post was never removed. So Johnny, are you going to go public again and make this right? Or stick to the lies? (I have emailed a copy of this post to Johnny Ball Productions. )
I was driving with just Duncan in the car with me. He was quiet, taking time to dream, ponder, plan or whatever. I dont know- its none of my business. Then he said a single word, "autism." I said nothing, just waited. He said it again. I said, "yes, autism...What is autism?" His response; "charming and delightful." Ive often mentioned in passing when talking with him, that he is autistic, is a boy with autism. Its another facet of him like his curly hair, blue eyes and love of animated films. Ive also told him over and over how wonderful he is, how hes perfect to me, funny, sweet, and yes delightful. I cant remember ever calling him charming but he just worked that out for himself. I love how he is thinking about these parts of his identity- where he lives, who his family and friends are, where he belongs, and now also- hes figuring out that theres autism in there too. And hes embracing it. Im proud of him.
So how about a charming anecdote? Today, Duncans school held a sod cutting ceremony to mark the start of the new school building project. This is a really big deal- the building was approved 9 whole years ago but finalising funding was held up time and again. The current school buildings are totally inadequate- most classes are in flimsy, temporary buildings and the whole site is on a steep hill- and since many of the pupils are wheelchair users, thats just not good enough. So everyone in the school is really pleased that finally, the school the students need and deserve is to be built. Duncan and I were invited to join the staff, other parents and pupils and some invited special guests for the event. Duncan ate a few sweets and was happy to see some of his friends and teachers, but then got a bit overwhelmed by the crowds in his hall and was bored waiting. He entertained himself for a while looking at photo displayed- even pointing out a girl whom he says is his girlfriend and will be his wife. I wonder what her opinion on all this is?! He then entertained himself taking photos using my phone- stick a bit of technology in that boys hands and he happy. He showed me a picture hed painted depicting his version of what the new school should contain. He reckons there should be an oboe room (hes big into oboes atm), a "sweety" room, a pool (hot and with bubbles) a studio (where he could make animated films) and a cinema (in which to screen them). Eventually I took him out and we waited in the car. The people all moved on to the building site. Not knowing what parking would be like and since it was a lovely day, Duncan and I walked- rather he ran "Gru style" (Despicable Me) and I just about managed to keep up. In the site, pupils and teachers gathered for photos with the mayor and other dignitaries. Not Duncan- how could he when there was a huge and fascinating green digger to look at. He ran about the field for a bit and I dashed after him. Then he was given a blue balloon which after a while he let go of accidentally- and was momentarily crushed when it rose into the clear sky. He looked at me, seriously scared and asked "the world will not end?" I assured him the world would not end, and he decided that the balloon would either turn into a fairy or go to the fairies. When I heard there was to be a mass release of the remaining balloons I thought it was best to just go home. So it was nice but knackering- as time out and about with Duncan so often is. What I enjoyed most was the obvious affection with which he was greeted by so many staff and other pupils and how he clearly adores them in return. Theres a lot of heart in that place.
After posting yesterday on the Johnny Ball fiasco, I had a conversation on Twitter yesterday with Leo Hickman who wrote the 2 Guardian articles regarding the imaginary hounding of Johnny Ball. His first article was Lets join Johnny Ball in condemning extremists in the climate debate. Shortly afterwards, due solely to the more clued up people who responded in the comments and who took the couple of minutes needed to check the claim wrt the wicked paedophile-labelling blogger, Hickman wrote an update to his post: Johnny Ball denies climate zealots are ruining my career claims. Heres how it went. ************So Hickman admits that he just ran with it as he had "no reason to doubt" Ball, and that checking further- or "detective work"- can be left to his readers. Now really, how long would it take to read the blog Ball talked about, search it to find the post in question, and check that he hadnt been making it up as he went along. In Hickmans 2nd Guardian article he wrote:
@sharonf Hello Sharon. Just seen your new blog about all this. Looks like youve seen my updated blog too. #1 [x] 4:43pm Mar 23rd 2011 via web in reply to sharonf
@leohickman your updated blog still gives space to Ball to say I made "derogatory statements..totally out of order..blogs disappeared" untru #2 [x] 8:04pm Mar 23rd 2011 via web in reply to leohickman
@sharonf But it provides links thru to u 4 readers 2 c what was really said on yr blog. Ball is 1 who doesnt come out of this well, not u #3 [x] 8:17pm Mar 23rd 2011 via web in reply to sharonf
@leohickman Id hv wanted MSM journos to read blog in 1st place-not after commentors told them. appreciate link in 2nd article- despite ball #4 [x] 8:20pm Mar 23rd 2011 via TweetDeck in reply to leohickman
@leohickman u say dont want to be "drawn in" to blogs being deleted or not. think journos shld have contacted me before publtn- right reply #5 [x] 8:22pm Mar 23rd 2011 via TweetDeck in reply to leohickman
@sharonf I say in my blog I had no reason to doubt him - I stand by that. Ideal world, we wld check evrything, but readers did detctive work #6 [x] 8:26pm Mar 23rd 2011 via web in reply to sharonf
@leohickman ideal world! wld hv taken 2 mins to check his assertion, before ur original piece- its on his blog. he wasnt vilified by me. #7 [x] 8:28pm Mar 23rd 2011 via TweetDeck in reply to leohickman
@sharonf ...and all the others who joyfully ran with this story why they havent corrected their stories at all #8 [x] 8:32pm Mar 23rd 2011 via web in reply to sharonf
@leohickman oh I will! disgraceful how this took off from nothing. Maybe should be flattered I was accorded so much influence over celeb ;) #9 [x] 8:35pm Mar 23rd 2011 via TweetDeck in reply to leohickman
@sharonf As I think I said in comments beneath my blog, this ended up being more a media studies lesson than anything else. A lesson 4 all #10 [x] 8:40pm Mar 23rd 2011 via web in reply to sharonf
@leohickman exactly. The substance of such wild claims must be checked. Especially when it is said to come from a blog. #11 [x] 8:42pm Mar 23rd 2011 via TweetDeck in reply to leohickman
@sharonf and now this... http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2011/03/johnny-ball-to-work-with-gwpf #12 [x] 8:46pm Mar 23rd 2011 via web in reply to sharonf
@leohickman the BBC just *love* their "balance" saw it all the time in autism/vaccine discussions. Ball speaks for #13 [x] 8:50pm Mar 23rd 2011 via TweetDeck in reply to leohickman
@leohickman oops! They love having famous "sciencey" spokesperson to call on. Ball hs created new role for himself. martyr status helps role #14 [x] 8:53pm Mar 23rd 2011 via TweetDeck in reply to leohickman
Personally, I dont really want to get drawn into the nitty-gritty of how Google works, the intentions of those who build porn sites, or whether certain blogs have been deleted or not. I asked Ball to respond on these points and he did so.Why not? Hickman gave credence and lots of publicity to Balls claims regarding these very issues. He is a respected Guardian journalist and author on environmental issues, and not some seedy hack bent on muck raking. His contribution to the propagation of these claims is substantial. I do appreciate that he made a link available in his update article, and explained the nature of this personal blog- its hardly capable of changing a celebritys career. However I didnt notice an apology anywhere there for the initial oversight; just saying he took others words in good faith and checking up is too taxing, sounds all wrong to me. The whole point of his 1st article was to condemn the claimed mistreatment of Ball. And Ball still was given a platform to repeat his lies about my blog, repeating his claim that the line "Johnny Ball should not be allowed near children" comes up on Google links and that the post was removed- all untrue.
I thought I might get back into blogging some time but didnt know it would happen like this. I wrote this small scale blog for a few years before taking a long break. In that time I deleted most of my sidebar, especially links to other blogs I am no longer regularly reading, leaving static links like a 3 year old blog awards badge and the link to sense about sciences libel campaign. A working email address was still displayed on my Blogger profile, but I rarely checked it. All new comments go to my main email so I see those right away. Oh and I havent checked my stats for at least a year- why bother?! Recently I checked that little used email address and had a message alerting me to a Science Blogs post on Deltoid, a blog by Tim Lambert. This was the first notice I had that Johnny Ball was going around telling credulous journalists that a nasty blogger was mounting a campaign against him. In an interview with the TES he complains that:
his bookings have dropped by 90 per cent over the past year and the 72-year-old has blamed this on harassment by extreme environmentalists who object to his dismissal of climate change as “alarmist nonsense”.He continued to complain about some blogger saying he “should not be allowed near children”. He then claimed:
This was clearly a criminal act aimed directly to damage me and my career business,” he said. “Since notifying the police of these acts aimed at damaging my name and reputation, the offensive web links have quite amazingly disappeared.So who is this mysterious blogger who removed one of the "offensive" links after he complained to the police- its all revealed on his own (horrible looking, badly formatted) blog. He writes [scroll down to the terrifying sounding headline: "VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT. Wednesday 9/2/2011"] My thoughts are in red:
It is with horror and disgust that I find that I am the victim of some kind of Internet Smear Campaign.Oh really? Tell us more. I have had to complain to the police and my problem is now logged as a harrassment (sic) case and is being investigated. Wow, sounds serious. Someone better look out or the fuzzll be onto their bad self. This morning, an early phone call asked if the voice mail saying I could not attend a Teacher Training event on 1st March was true. Luckily the recipient knew that I make all my own telephone calls. We have the recording which we will hand to the police. The event was posted on my News and Apperances (sic) listing. How awful, Johnny is loosing bookings over all this! Just who could have so much power in the life of the famous man? Anyone Googling “JOHNNYBALL” (without the gap) may have found a sponsored direct link to “Johnny Ball/Paul Raymond” which when clicked on immediately opens up on a collection of explicit nude pictures of females. I had obviously opened this link and contacted the Paul Raymond organisation. Before they could act, the link had been removed, - 9/2/11 - so it is clear that I am being monitored. Someone please explain the internet to Johnny- meta tags, other people in the world sharing his name- there are many non-conspiracy reasons why this could have happened. Also on a Northern Ireland Blog, The Family Voyage, you tell em Johnny...wait a minute, thats me! WTF? which prides itself on winning some Blog Award (yay! big up my blog award...oh, hes being snarky, Im hurt now) flagged JohnnyBall and featured the statement, “Johnny Ball should not be allowed near children.” This is a lie- neither the blog post nor the comments contained that statement. Being near to children has been my career for over 50 years. As yet I cannot contact them, as their site is only open to known members?? (Their flagged Johnny Ball link has now miraculously disappeared) Its easy to contact me. Also, the post has not and never had disappeared- no idea why he claims this. Their beef is that I dared suggest in 2009 on NI Radio that Sammy Wilson as Energy Minister was right when he refused to air “Carbon Trust” TV commercials, one of which showed a very young child being told a story of a drowning world through climate change. Following complaints to the Advertising Authorities, these ads were found “guilty of exaggeration and alarmism over climate change” and were ordered to be dropped. So that would indicate that I was totally justified in condemning them? Anyone who knows me and my career, must know that I have never done anything that in any way would harm a single child. Who has claimed that he would? I defy anyone to find anything that I have done in my career that, were it publicly known, would harm my reputation. [Here follows some of his funny wee notions on climate science.] Everyone who knows me, will know just how sad I am that I have had to write this blog. Hopefully it will be the last. I so enjoy working to kids and making them laugh, before I add material that should hopefully give them confidence in their own abailities (sic) and their future as adults. Whatever is wrong with our society I see nothing wrong with the vast majority of the kids I aim to inspire. Johnny Ball - Wednesday 9/2/2011 - updated 14/2/11Note the lack of links in this piece- perhaps he doesnt know how to hyperlink? So far, so daft. But this sparked off a furor among mainstream journalists and climate change "skeptics" all outraged at the evil "climate change zealot" who defamed their Johnny. The Telegraph: Johnny Ball abused by environmentalists over climate change denial by Graeme Paton
In an interview, he told how websites had been set up in his name featuring pornographic images and a blogger wrote that he should “not be allowed near children”.The Daily Mail: Climate zealots made my life hell for being a sceptic says Johnny Ball, who was victim of porn and blog smears by Kate Loveys
Yesterday he revealed he has become the victim of a vicious hate campaign by environmentalist ‘zealots’.Mr Ball – father of Radio Two DJ Zoe Ball – popularised maths and science for millions of youngsters in the 1970s and 1980s with his eccentric TV shows. More recently he has carved out a career giving talks in schools and at science festivals and teachers’ conferences. This will make the right-on brigade hot and bothered But he says zealots are trying to sabotage his career because he has described climate change as ‘alarmist nonsense’. He claims the internet has been used to try to discredit his opinions. Bloggers have run campaigns stating Mr Ball ‘should not be allowed near children’.Notice that my one lowly blog has metamorphosised into a whole host of campaigning zealot bloggers out to get poor Johnny. Wow. Via the Deltoid post, I hear of a bloke writing in something called the Herald Sun who got really hot and bothered about all this: “Pedophile!”, the warmists argued
"It’s that totalitarian mindset outing itself again. The savagery and intolerance are unmistakable giveaways."Writing on the Guardian Environment Blog, Leo Hickman wrote: Lets join Johnny Ball in condemning extremists in the climate debate
Ball says he was forced to call the police last week after a website featuring a pornographic image was posted online bearing his name. In a separate incident, he says a blogger stated that "he should not be allowed near children". He says that both sites have since been taken down and South Thames police says it is investigating his complaints.No links to the blog in question on any of these so readers can assess the claims for themselves. Nor does it look like any of these esteemed journalists spent the 2 minutes or so it would have taken them to find the post Ball referred to and realise he was spouting bollox! I am only grateful that my name was not mentioned on any of articles as the climate change deniers are a scary bunch and I wouldnt want to have to deal with their attacks. You might think given all the references to the police taking action against the perpetrators of these dastardly crimes, they might have been in touch, but no. The PSNI have not bashed my door down in a quest for justice. My blog has sat there utterly unchanged, uncontested and mostly unread for ages. If you want to read the post in question, its this: Johnny Ball, what happened to you? In the comments, one person wrote:
I just went on Johnny Balls site to send him an email asking him not to damage himself in this way. I then read his blog and its all come clear. Hes a religious nut. Should of been clear before. Thats why he tied scientists to eugenics. Something religious people do. Suggesting that science caused the holocaust. Heard it before, again and again from these people. Johnny is not a man who should go anywhere near children with his ideas. He is not a man of reason and evidence but a ranting old lunatic. Guess the reason he disappeared from our screens is a mystery no more. Sad.Note the quote in red. It is very different from what Ball claims I wrote. At least Leo Hickman posted an update when commentors on his initial article on the matter posted a bit more information; things that he should have investigated himself. Johnny Ball denies climate zealots are ruining my career claims
For example, one of Balls central claims was that a blogger had stated that he "should not be allowed near children". The word "paedophile" was not used, but the implication was clear. But soon the original blog posting was isolated and it turned out that the full statement used – by a reader on a blog run by a woman with an autistic son – was that Ball, as a climate sceptic, "should [not] go anywhere near children with his ideas". A very different message. Speculation mounted in the comments beneath my article – and elsewhere – that Ball was wrongly maligning and blaming environmentalists with this pointedly edited sentence.Well quite! But in this article Hickman quotes a conversation he had with Ball, asking for clarification. Ball just isnt ready to let go of his rancour with me:
The other [link which was removed] appeared on a Northern Ireland blog that prided itself in winning a blog award. Sheesh Johnny, enough praise for my blog award already! It was years ago! Googled items usually have two lines of introductory text. This one said, Johnny Ball should not be allowed near children. This appeared on the listing and was very alarming. More lies. Their issue was in my support on BBC Radio Northern Ireland of Sammy Wilson as Energy Minister who had said he would not allow a Carbon Trust commercial which showed a child of around 5 being read a bedtime story in which the world was drowning. On that show, I lost my temper as two other NI MPs were banging on about who had the largest carbon footprint over the mileage they each did in a week. After many complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority declared the ads alarmist, or whatever - the point is they did feel they might be damaging and worrying for children and they were withdrawn – so, whatever the beef was, my stance was in line with the authorities and so I was justified. But for whatever reason, for that blog to make such derogatory statements about me, was totally out of order. The two blogs disappeared a few days later. The most derogatory statement I made about him was to call him a silly old duffer- a comment I stand by. Also, once again- the post never has disappeared! Wow- boggles!So there you go, my reintroduction to blogging- not with a charming anecdote about my beautiful son, but in order to defend myself against ridiculous and frankly defamatory statements about me which were (though thankfully without including my name) propagated by the mainstream media. These articles gave rise to over 1000 comments, many of which were directed against the evil blogger attacking dear sweet Johnny. Frankly Im amazed. And rather pissed off.
I just listened to an interview on Radio Ulster with Nelson McCausland, the minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL). The minister has written to the trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland saying he believed they and his department both "share a common desire to ensure that museums are reflective of the views, beliefs and cultural traditions that make up society in Northern Ireland." On todays radio interview he spoke with Richard Dawkins who phoned up to predictably assert that creationism is bunkum and doesnt belong in the museum, and while I agree with his first point Im not so sure about his second. The Ulster Museum is a great place to visit and theres loads to see and learn from, especially their exhibits on natural history, art and local history. I think a temporary exhibit on the ideas held by the people of this region would be an interesting addition provided all the main displays continue to reflect the facts of evolution and what we have been able to discover about how the earth and universe were formed via the scientific method. A display on the mythology of the people might be fun, if not absolutely hilarious. It could reflect research on just what beliefs on our origins are actually held here, where they have come from, how many people hold them, how these ideas have themselves evolved and why. Then have the notions of creationism/intelligent design clearly laid out for all to see. Since the minister is keen to uphold the human rights of the people he represents by having their beliefs and opinions displayed, then go ahead. Alongside the views of the "Cdesign Proponentsists" the human rights of the 70% or so of people here who do not believe in this theory must also be protected, so have a display on all the proofs for evolution and refuting all the claims of creationism/intelligent design. "THE TRUTH MAY BE PUZZLING. IT MAY TAKE SOME WORK TO GRAPPLE WITH. IT MAY BE COUNTER INTUITIVE. IT MAY CONTRADICT DEEPLY HELD PREJUDICES. IT MAY NOT BE CONSONANT WITH WHAT WE DESPERATELY WANT TO BE TRUE. BUT OUR PREFERENCES DO NOT DETERMINE WHATS TRUE." Carl Sagan.
This post might be a one off. Time will tell. Each of the children are now attending school full time. Lady (now 12) started secondary school in September. It is going well for her. She had been concerned that she would find the work too difficult and didnt fully believe my assertions that she would cope well with everything expected of her. She lacked confidence in her abilities and thought my judgement of her worth wasnt objective enough to trust. She now knows for herself that she is smart, a good learner, flexible, social and far more organised that even I thought shed be and this has boosted her self esteem. There are aspects of school life that she dislikes and many that exasperate me but the current system means that if you chose the school option, you get these things along with it. Lady is happy and the advantages for her and all of us outweigh the disadvantages so to school she goes. Thomas (now 8) is in the same primary school he started just after Easter. He is happy too. He is so dedicated and conscientious, he works hard and still loves PE best. Like Lady he had made new friends. His school is across the road from a country train station just one stop away from the station 10 minutes walk from our house so he takes the train to and from school on his own every day. He enjoys the feeling of independence and personal responsibility. Both of them are still in the gymnastics squad. Thomas left the mens artistic team and like Lady he now does acro gymnastics and tumbling. Lady is also in the cheerleading team and competes in an all-Ireland competition later this month. They are thriving. Duncan (10) is also at school- one for children with severe learning disabilities so he gets the right level of adult support. I could not be more pleased with the school, his teacher and the other classroom staff. Duncan adores it and talks about it all the time. He tells me about his friends in the class and what they do each day. He is having a total blast. Today he will have gone horse riding for the 2nd time. The report back in his home-school diary last week was that he is a natural and loved the whole experience. He thinks hes Cowboy Woody so heres hoping he doesnt try to gallop off! Not just yet anyway. Every Friday they go swimming. They have had a magician and the Ulster Orchestra to perform for them. Theyve been on outings to the airport, to sheepdog trials, to the wetland centre and aquarium. Duncan loves going places. I was prompted to write today to record the meeting myself and his dad had this morning with Duncans teacher about his individual education plan. His teacher is obviously a perceptive person as she is utterly enchanted by Duncan. She realises he is very capable academically and is keen to encourage and enable him to be the best he can be. She thinks his little animations are so clever-she says that she is convinced that one day hell be famous! - and that he is such a loving, happy and kind boy. She talked about all the ways they are helping him to progress in his self control, communication and understanding. It was a most positive and helpful meeting. I only just realised that neither of us mentioned the word autism once- we didnt need to. We both know that Duncans autism is just part of all the amazing, astonishing, at times infuriating and always awesome way that he is so we only needed to talk about him and his environment and how to reduce the barriers he faces to be well. Heres his latest video.