Thursday, August 20, 2015

Harold Doherty

Autism Light #427 is Harold L. Doherty.

Harold L. Doherty is an attorney and autism father from Fredericton, New Brunswick in Canada. He is an autism advocate who is also a blogger and prolific user of social media. His son Conor has autism. Harold Doherty is an Autism Light for the dedication he has an autism father and for using his expertise as a Canadian attorney to help fight for autism services in Canada, especially that medicare will cover ABA therapy to help those who are most severely impacted by autism.

Harold Doherty with his son Conor
Autism Father: Harold Doherty has two sons and his 19 year old son Conor is severely impacted by autism. Harold began his autism advocacy in 1999 when Conor was 3 years old. Harold Doherty says, "My interest in autism, and my engagement in autism advocacy, began with my son Conor's Autism Disorder diagnosis and the need to do something (Organized Wisdom-Autism Reality in NB)."

Harold Doherty wrote the following Autism Pledge to his son Conor. It reveals the scope of his dedication and is found on his blog.
Today I Pledge to continue; I Pledge to continue to fight for the availability of effective autism treatments; I Pledge to continue to fight for real education for autistic children; I Pledge to continue to fight for decent residential care for autistic adults; I Pledge to continue to fight for a cure for autism; I pledge to continue finding joy in my son but not in the autism disorder that restricts his life; Today, and everyday, I Pledge to continue to hope for a better life for Conor and others with autism through accommodation, care, respect, treatment, and some day a cure; Today, and everyday, I Pledge to continue to fight for the best possible life for Conor, my son with autistic disorder (Facing Autism in New Brunswick Blog).

Attorney: Harold Doherty's primary area of practice as a lawyer in Canada has been in the field of labour and employment law. He has also had extensive involvement working with some First Nation’s (Indian Bands) in the province of New Brunswick where he lives and practices.

Medicare for Autism Now!: Harold Doherty is a member of the Board of Directors of Medicare for Autism Now!. He advocates for ABA treatment for autism disorder coverage under medicare legislation in Canada. Harold is advocating for inclusion of evidence based autism treatment and ABA, under the Canada Health Act. He will be an advocate for autism coverage under medicare in the current federal election in Canada.

The following is a 2012 interview featuring Harold Doherty in a series called Medicare's Orphans.

Facing Autism in New Brunswick Blog: Harold Doherty started his blog Facing Autism in New Brunswick in 2006 to spread his autism advocacy. Since it's beginning his blog has had almost 1.3 million page views. His blog includes both news and opinions related to his autism advocacy in Canada as well as personal updates on Conor and his journey as an autism father. 

If you wish to read Harold Doherty's blog, the following are two selected posts on his blog that Harold Doherty recommends people read.

You may also find some of Harold Doherty's blog posts in syndication and tagged on the Autism Speaks Blog.

ABA Advocate: Harold believes in the proven effectiveness of ABA therapy to make a difference for autism. His efforts as an autism advocate have it's start when he "began to realize the seriousness of his [son Connor's] autism disorder, that ABA treatment could be helpful and that ABA based early intervention for autism disorder was not generally available where I live (Harold Doherty via an email to Autism Light, August 3, 2015)."

Care and Treatment for Adults with Autism: Harold Doherty has been an autism advocate as his son has grown from a toddler to an adult. His current priority is to advocate for better services for adults with autism. He writes the following about the urgency of this part of his efforts.
My most important effort right now is working on adult autism care and treatment and for that reason met with the provincial Minister of Social Development for the province of New Brunswick. Establishment of a decent, modern adult autism care and treatment is the biggest challenge I have faced and both me and my son are getting older. Time is growing short (Harold Doherty via an email to Autism Light, August 3, 2015).

Questioning Neurodiversity Message: Autism is a spectrum that represents people who have extraordinary abilities as well as exceptional disabilities. The great chasm of differences in the intellectual and developmental capacity of individuals with autism can lead to profound differences in autism messaging from their advocates. Harold Doherty has personal experiences with the serious difficulties facing individuals with low functioning autism both in his family and in his community work. He has raised an alarm about the unintended consequences of the neurodiversity message having the potential to demotivate government from providing critical autism treatment services. He writes the following about neurodiversity.
I believe that neurodiversity is a major obstacle to improving lives of those with autism disorders including my son. The mainstream media has a tendency to grab the feel good stories about those persons with high functioning autism or Aspergers who have very impressive accomplishments. The severe end of the spectrum tends to be ignored by the media and generally lost to public consciousness until a serious tragedy results as in the Avonte Oquendo case and other cases of wandering leading to death (Harold Doherty via an email to Autism Light, August 3, 2015).
Photographer: Harold Doherty's principle hobby is outdoor photography that he combines with his love of walking. He writes, "I am fortunate to live in a city called the green city with a very natural environment and wildlife in the middle of, and throughout, the city. I have always loved being outdoors and in nature and I combine the two for exercise and relaxation (Harold Doherty via an email to Autism Light, August 3, 2015)." The following is a photo he took on his walk that he posted on Twitter.

Social Media: You can follow Harold Doherty on the following social media areas.
Special thanks to Harold Doherty for being an Autism Light. His dedication and tenacity as an autism advocate is a strength of source for those severely impacted by autism who may not necessarily be able to speak for themselves. We wish Harold Doherty all the best in his role as an autism father and community advocate in New Brunswick, Canada.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photos: The photos in the post were used with permission of Harold L. Doherty and are in the "Buddies Forever" section of his blog's main page.

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