Professors, researchers, psychologists, parents denounce EIBI media coverage

MONTREAL, Jan. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Autism experts from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM), the Quebec Association for Behaviour Analysis (QcABA), West Montreal Readaptation Centre (WMRC), the Clinique d'approche béhaviorale en autisme (C-ABA), the Abe Gold Learning and Research Centre and Cocon Development today denounced recent articles in Quebec's La Presse newspaper as giving an inaccurate and misleading view of the reality and benefits of Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI), or intervention comportementale intensive (ICI) in French.

"Several sources quoted by La Presse knowingly discounted the extensive research showing EIBI to be an effective and comprehensive approach to promoting the skills development of younger children with autism in all domains of daily living," said Marc Lanovaz, president of the QcABA and advisor, planning and programming, research and knowledge transfer for WMRC.

"This controversial, Quebec-based minority does not base itself on scientific literature, and the North American scientific community would disagree with them," said Dr. Katherine Moxness, director of professional services for WMRC and adjunct professor in educational and counselling psychology at McGill University. "Quebec's current EIBI approach for children with autism spectrum disorders is in keeping with all other jurisdictions in North America."

Certain sources quoted by La Presse questioned the effectiveness of EIBI, the cost of providing it, the wait times for receiving it, the inconsistent application of the therapy, supposedly inadequate training and a lack of EIBI regulation in Quebec.

"The inaccuracies in this article are very disappointing," said Dr. Nathalie Poirier, a professor in psychology at UQÀM and a psychologist for C-ABA, "such as my supposedly saying that educators receive only three days of training in EIBI, when I teach and helped to develop the 30-credit certificate for educators and the 30-credit diploma for EIBI supervisors, as part of the Plan national de formation en troubles envahissants du développement.

"As for my maintaining that rehabilitation centres do `whatever they want,'" continued Dr. Poirier, "I seriously question whether the other sources were misquoted as badly as I was."

"The article gives the false impression EIBI is controversial among parents and that parents are dissatisfied with it, while our research strongly indicates that, on the contrary, the vast majority of parents whose children receive EIBI notice progress in their children and attribute that progress to EIBI," said Dr. Catherine Des Rivières, professor at UQÀM.

"While there should be a more consistent application of EIBI province-wide, it's dangerous to question its validity without offering any scientific data or alternative solution," said Dr. Nathalie Garcin, executive director of the Abe Gold Research and Learning Centre. "With regard to the cost of services, Quebec spends less and offers fewer hours of direct service to individuals with autism spectrum disorders than other provinces. For instance, Ontario offers up to 40 hours per week."

"I have written a detailed letter to the journalist in question because the number of EIBI hours provided to children with autism in Quebec is nowhere near enough, and if it's expensive, it's nowhere near the social costs that the province will have to bear if we do not provide it," said Dr. Marie Giroux, a family doctor and mother of a child with autism.

"As a parent and a professional, I have witnessed the substantial progress an intensive and adapted behavioural intervention can have on the ability of children with autism to communicate and socialize," said Gisela Regli, founder of Cocon Development and co-founder of the QcABA.

"In Quebec, the parent whose child has just received an autism diagnosis is faced with a multitude of possible interventions and professional opinions, and that just makes it harder for them," said Ms. Sylvie Bernard, director of the C-ABA. Ms. Sylvie Donais, a psychologist with the same clinic, agreed: "It's not because each child reacts differently to EIBI that its effectiveness should be questioned, but rather that more clinical research should be undertaken to find the best intervention for sub-groups of children with autism."

"It is time for a real debate on this issue in Quebec, so that the many evidence-based findings on the effectiveness of EIBI can be disseminated and the public made aware of them, and to end this pointless denigration of an intervention that is of significant help to hundreds of children," said Dr. Normand Giroux of Cocon Development, which offers bilingual software to measure the daily progress of children on the autism spectrum, and professor at UQÀM.

Based on Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), EIBI consists of intensive, one-on-one therapy aiming to develop the skills of a child with autism in the domains of daily living, communication, language (expressive and receptive), play, social interaction, etc.

West Montreal Readaptation Centre

West Montreal Readaptation Centre (WMRC) is a rehabilitation centre for people with an intellectual disability or pervasive developmental disorder.

The centre provides habilitation, rehabilitation, residential and community integration services in English and French to some 600 children and close to 1,000 adults. It provides EIBI to some 100 children annually.

With its head office in Lachine, WMRC also operates a specialized children's facility in Beaconsfield and a great number of specialized resources across Montreal's West Island and elsewhere. It employs over 400 people.


For further information:

Media contacts:

Abe Gold Research and Learning Centre
Nathalie Garcin, Ph.D. 514 345-8330

Sylvie Bernard, Ph.D.
Sylvie Donais, Ph.D.
Nathalie Poirier, Ph.D.
514 271-9696

Cocon Development
Normand Giroux, Ph.D.
514 776-8476
Gisela Regli
514 531-6410

Marie Giroux, MD
819 346-1110, ext. 14273

Québec Association for Behaviour Analysis (QcABA)
Marc Lanovaz, M.Sc., BCBA

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM)
Catherine Des Rivières, Ph.D.
514 987-3000, ext. 2534

West Montreal Readaptation Centre (WMRC)
Katherine Moxness, Ph.D.
514 363-3025, ext. 2208

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