Peat NI

22nd September 2014

PEAT announces International Award for Autism Teaching Tool

Professor Mickey Keenan (founder of the PEAT charity) from the School of Psychology at the University of Ulster is to receive the International Dissemination of Behavior Analysis Award from the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis (SABA).

Professor Keenan along with European professionals and PEAT have worked together for the last number of years in the development and translations of Simple Steps thanks to funding from the Leonardo Davinci Lifelong Learning Programme through a project entitled ‘STAMPPP’.

The SABA Board of Directors has nominated the European funded project devoted to autism treatment (STAMPPP; lead by Prof. Mickey Keenan as the recipient of the Award for the International Dissemination of Behavior Analysis.

We applaud you and the team for developing the Simple Steps program to create a unique online resource for parents, care givers, and educators. We appreciate the team’s dedication to making these materials readily accessible and realise preparing and translating the Simple Steps package into seven languages was a significant undertaking. The project is a wonderful example of the effective dissemination of accurate, scientifically based tools and information to serve individuals and care providers who may benefit from applied behavior analysis. It is our pleasure to acknowledge the success of the STAMPPP project and the effort of its many contributors.”

This is a hugely significant accomplishment by the STAMPPP team that will help promote ABA in Europe. At a time when autism is on the increase worldwide, the Simple Steps program ( was designed to provide accurate information on Applied Behaviour Analysis for parents and professionals. 

Currently in America, 37 States (+ District of Columbia; US Virgin Islands) have enacted autism laws to ensure that parents have access to ABA. In May this year, The U.S. House of Representatives approved a new Defense budget which includes a requirement that TRICARE dramatically improve access to ABA for all military children with developmental disabilities (see This move towards investment in evidence-based interventions based on ABA that offer hope to families affected by the effects of autism is further exemplified by a decision this year by the California Department of Insurance. They were given the go-ahead to enforce tough new requirements to stop private insurers from denying and delaying coverage of ABA for autism treatment.

Controversially, in the UK and Ireland government and ministers have been misinformed about the true nature of ABA. This is because ABA professionals have not been consulted on the accuracy of how the findings from their science have been reported by those not trained in it. This issue was identified by Prof. Keenan at the Cross Party Briefing in Leinster Dublin last year at the invitation of Sinn Fein TD, Jonathon O'Brien ( The result of misinformation is a huge gulf between the US and the UK on investment in ABA training. In the US, ABA is considered the treatment of choice, whereas in the UK, oftentimes parents have to resort to Tribunals to obtain funding for ABA.


Simple Steps contains animations, movie clips, and practical exercises to help parents and professionals understand the basics of ABA. Pioneered by the first autism charity in Northern Ireland that promotes ABA, PEAT, the tutorial is designed to be used alongside visits by professionals trained in ABA. Professor Tony Byrne, Chairperson of PEAT, said of the award:

“Simple Steps is a truly innovative and ground breaking concept which was originally developed by PEAT working with Professor Keenan and Dr. Gallagher at the University of Ulster.  We must acknowledge the funding support from Big Lottery and BBC Children in Need who helped get this project off the ground.  Leonardo made the translations possible. Now parents and carers throughout the World have access to Simple Steps.  It is really amazing that our work in Northern Ireland will help other families coping with Autism”.  

Parents in Northern Ireland who request support for ABA are often referred to PEAT. Unfortunately, PEAT receives no statutory funding for helping parents learn the science that has received support from the Surgeon General in the States. Prof. Keenan said:

“Hopefully this award from the United States will help PEAT receive government support for its hands-on-work with children. One of the STAMPPP partners was the State Diagnostic and Counselling Center in Iceland. They are now using SimpleSteps to train parents in ABA. In N. Ireland, SimpleSteps is being ignored. That old adage “You can’t be a prophet in your own country” surely rings true when it comes to getting it right about reasons for investing in ABA. ABA truly is only one thing, it is ‘evidence-based practice par excellence’ and that’s why 37 States in America, with others waiting in the wings, are promoting it.”

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