Breakthrough autism treatment ‘not on Government’s radar’ – Mullen says
“Government reply loaded with civil service gobbledygook”
18th November 2014
Independent University Senator Rónán Mullen has criticised the Government response to his call for the breakthrough autism teaching technique known as the ‘Rapid Prompting Method’ (RPM) to be promoted, funded and targeted at children suffering with autism in Irish schools.
“RPM is a truly breakthrough method for assisting parents and teachers of children with autism. The RPM system gives a child a new way to communicate with others. It is particularly successful for people who have limited or no speech. According to the Department of Education’s own figures approximately one child in every 88 is on the autistic spectrum. With such a high incidence of autism in Ireland, the Department of Education ought to be interested in any promising new education technique for children affected by autism.”
The Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan did not attend the Seanad to answer the Senator Mullen’s motion. Instead the Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, delivered a prepared script from the Department of Education. Senator Mullen criticised this response: “It was complete civil servants’ speak and I am disappointed because it tells me nothing about whether the Department knows or cares anything about the RPM method. Considering how important this issue is for thousands of Irish families I hoped to receive a reply that was not loaded with civil service gobbledygook. It looks like RPM is not on the Government’s radar.”
Senator Mullen lauded the work of volunteers who are struggling to have the Department of Education recognise the RPM method. In particular he praised the Ó Láimhín family and their supporters in Swinford, County Mayo for pioneering the introduction of the RPM system into Ireland: “Nuala Ó Láimhín is the mother of Seosamh, a 16 year old boy with severe autism. She and her husband, Padraig, have been using the rapid prompting method with their son at home since May 2013. Nuala tells me that life for Seosamh and their family has been transformed since they started using the method. The Ó Láimhín family and other volunteers in County Mayo have worked hard to spread the word of the RPM system. At the moment there is no evidence that the Department of Education is even aware of RPM, let alone willing to meet the volunteers who are working so hard to bring it to the attention of parents around Ireland. This is a disappointing state of affairs”.