HEALTH Minister James Reilly has slated a clinical psychologist for his views on autism.
The minister said that comments by Dr Tony Humphreys about the causes of autism were "utterly outrageous".
In an unusually frank interview, Dr Reilly opened up about his own son (25) who suffers from autism as he said that Dr Humphreys had insulted parents like him.
He was responding to a newspaper article in which the psychologist suggested that the parents of autistic children are partly responsible for their children's condition.
In his article, Dr Humphreys argued that the parents of autistic children "live predominantly in their heads and possess few or no heart qualities", which is why "their children will need to find some way of defending themselves against the absence of expressed love and affection and emotional receptivity".
In an emotional interview on TV3 yesterday, Dr James Reilly dismissed the controversial comments.
"Well, it was utterly outrageous," he said.
"The hurt that he has caused people is absolutely astonishing. I heard him on the radio the other day and I thought he compounded it by saying, 'I thought this was a good news story that parents wouldn't have to worry or feel guilty about passing on their bad genes to their children'.
"What? Another utter insult to parents and, you know, I'll say this to parents, let no one set a limit on your child's horizon."
In response to criticism, Dr Humphreys said that he never intended to lay the blame on parents and that he was only trying to inform the public on the latest research on autism.