Cillian’s Story
age 3 yrs 10 mths
• Did not respond to hearing tests …
• … hearing loss, possible brain damage,
• and developmental delay
Community Medical Officers
ENT specialists
Speech Therapists
Educational Psychologists
Clinical Psychologists
Occupational Therapist
Health Visitors
who were unable to
offer practical advice to
Cillian’s parents
Cillian’s Story
age 3 yrs 10 mths
•… Moderate learning difficulties
•… Asperger’s Syndrome
•… Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Cillian’s diagnosis
… vocabulary of about 7/8 words
… preferred solitary repetitive play
… did not respond to his name, he slept little
Age 3
Cillian’s Story
age 11 yrs
Age 3
Age 11
Cillian’s Story
age 13 yrs
Cillian, 2005
Welcome address to an ABA conference at Coleraine
with a script he wrote himself!
Age 3
Age 11
Cillian’s Story
age 13 yrs
Cillian, 2005
A remarkable transformation by any standards
Cillian’s Story
age 13 yrs
Cillian, 2005
Age 3
Age 11
• Skills deficit in community to achieve what Cillian’s mum and I achieved together
• Misinformation on Aplied Behaviour Analysis is rampant
• Abuse of parents by some professionals who charge extortionate fees for their services
ABA is a Science
It is NOT a therapy for autism
Dillenburger, K., & Keenan, M. (2009). None of the As in ABA stand for autism:
Dispelling the myths. Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 34, 193–195.
• Applied Behavior Analysis is the science
in which tactics derived from the
principles of behavior are applied
systematically to improve socially
significant behavior and experimentation
is used to identify the variables
responsible for behavior change.
(Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007 p. 20)
Comments on the effectiveness of ABA for helping
children with autism
American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities “highly recommended” (highest rating)
National Institute of Mental Health
The National Academies Press
Association for Science in Autism Treatment
Autism Speaks
Organization For Autism Research
ABA-based procedures are highly effective
Government agencies supporting the use of ABA-based procedures
Surgeon General of the United States
“Thirty years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied
behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and in
increasing communication, learning, and appropriate
social behavior.”
New York State Department of Health
Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities
U.S. Dept. of Defense
Current Opinion in Psychiatry
“Interventions based on applied behavior analysis have the strongest empirical basis, although there is some evidence
that other therapies have promise.” (Sturmey, 2002)
“The most efficacious psychosocial treatment for autism is applied behavior analysis...” (Lilienfeld, 2005)
Supreme Court of British Colombia (2000)
“…It is beyond debate that the appropriate treatment is ABA or early intensive behavioural intervention.”
Comments on the effectiveness of ABA for helping
children with autism
National Standards Project (2009)
775 research studies - the largest number of studies ever
The overwhelming majority of these interventions were developed
in the behavioral literature.”
Autism Treatment Acceleration Act (2009)
17 States passed legislation that ABA is to be funded by medical
insurance companies
Never mind the science,
we’ll do it our way!
Dept of Education in N. Ireland
Freedom of Information Act
Please supply a list of references from research published in peerreviewed journal articles showing an eclectic approach to be equal
to, or superior to ABA
Admitted they didn’t have any!!
is the way to go
Never mind the science,
we’ll do it our way!
€20 Million
Fighting parents
Dealing with Misrepresentation
Medical professionals would not be excluded from reviews of medical
research so why are proactive steps not taken to involve Behavioural
professionals in reviews of behavioural research?
1. Why such an oversight was
made and why this was not
noticed or corrected?
2. Who the members of the
panel were?
3. What made their inclusion in
the review an essential?
4. What is their specialist
knowledge of ABA?
5. Were they any N. Ireland ABA
specialists on the review panel?
6. Who actually wrote the BPS
7. Was the author of the review
report a specialist in ABA?
Dealing with Misrepresentation
A prejudice is a prejudgement: i.e., a preconceived belief, opinion,
or judgment made without ascertaining the facts of a case.
Institutional Discrimination refers to unequal treatment that is
entrenched in basic social institutions resulting in advantaging one
group over another.
Educational authorities in Ireland can easily deflect accusations of
prejudice and discrimination by following the example of New Zealand
Prejudice is best eliminated through education.........
"Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being.
Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light."
Albert Schweitzer
Leonardo da Vinci

Bringing an applied science to the community