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A pioneering training program for autism treatment that was developed in Northern Ireland has been recognised as an example of excellence by the European Commission’s Life-long Learning Programme.

STAMPPP – Science and the Treatment of Autism: a Multimedia Package for Parents and Professionals – is to be discussed in one of a number of workshops hosted by the Leonardo da Vinci Programme on 9 November in Brussels on the 15th anniversary of the programme which supports vocational, educational and training projects.

The package, which was launched in September this year at Stormont, is called Simple Steps and is made up of a DVD, a comprehensive booklet and a CD-ROM containing instructions and various resources on Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) for professionals and parents.

Lead researcher on the project is Dr Mickey Keenan, who is from the School of Psychology at the University of Ulster and is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

He said: “The Leonardo UK National Agency recognised STAMPPP as an example of excellence in this area and we are very honoured for this acknowledgement. A lot of hard work has gone into the development of what is both an innovative and active example of best practice in autism treatment.”

The development of the package came about as a result of the shortage of professionals trained to international standards in the science of ABA to help teach people with autism.

Dr Keenan continued: “With Simple Steps translated into Norwegian, Spanish and German, we are hopeful that children diagnosed with autism across Europe can now benefit because their carers have a new way to learn about effective, science-based treatment. It has been estimated that there are more children diagnosed with autism each year than all the major childhood illnesses combined, which presents a major problem for the caring profession.”

STAMPPP involved an international consortium from the University of Ulster, QUB, European Association for Behaviour Analysis, the University of Oviedo, Spain, Akershus University College, Norway, the University of Applied Sciences, Münster, Germany, and local charity PEAT (Parents’ Education as Autism Therapists), which was established by Dr Keenan.

Simple Steps is now available online at as a joint venture between PEAT and leading branding company Manleys in Belfast.