A Transatlantic Autism Summit held at Parliament Buildings, Stormont last week was part hosted by Dominic Bradley the SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh and Chair of the All-Party Group at Stormont.

National Autism charities from Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and the United States will meet today with the purpose of developing an ongoing communications network worldwide to unify the voices of autism advocates in their work with national public policy decision makers.

MLA Dominic Bradley at the Transatlantic Autism Summit, Stormont with John McCallister MLA, American Consul General Gregory Burton and US Autism Expert Dr Tom McCool.
MLA Dominic Bradley at the Transatlantic Autism Summit, Stormont with MLA John McCallister, American Consul General Gregory Burton and US Autism Expert Dr Tom McCool.

Mr. Bradley who was instrumental in the delivery in the Autism Act said ''This Autism Summit is the result of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the U.S. Congress and the Northern Ireland Assembly Autism Caucus nearly eight years ago in September 2007.  The two countries formally agreed to develop co-operative relationships with significant national autism organisations for the purpose of increasing awareness, resources and support for people and their families who are impacted by autism. Reaching out beyond those directly affected by Autism to the general population is the next step in the process of helping the public’s understanding of the lifelong developmental disability and I am happy to support this endeavour in any way I can."

Autism NI was the driving force in getting the MOU signed between the Northern Ireland Assembly and the U.S. Congress.

Autism NI’s CEO Dr. Cassidy said: “Since 2007 we have talked about this meeting, and now have a significant commitment from a small but extremely knowledgeable group to lead the way.”

Joining Dr. Cassidy for this international summit were: Dr Thomas McCool and expert in the field of Autism, Scott Badesch, President/CEO of the Autism Society of America, Pat Matthews, CEO of Autism Ireland, Alan Somerville of the Scottish Autism Society and Andy Grainger of ASC Cymru in Wales. Also invited to the meeting are Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA), co-chairs of the US Congressional Autism Caucus.   Sponsoring the Autism Summit is Innovative Learning, Inc. founded by local resident of the Santa Ynez Valley, Dr. Michael Reid, PhD. 

Dr. Reid stated, “We’re supporting this Summit because it is the first time in history that such a comprehensive process is planned with individuals and organizations fully committed to support those who will have to face the challenges of Autism long into the future.”

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