INFORMED CONSCIOUS

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The inaugural NDA research seminar on European Day of Disability (see p.16) provided a valuable forum for representatives of many disability groups, advocates and scholars to debate the state of disability research in Ireland. Discussion ranged from the search for valid theoretical/social frameworks to presentations on of individual studies and approaches.

Our focus-articles in this issue are also concerned with the world of research and information gathering. Máiríde Woods gives her insights as both researcher and ‘researchee’; Michael McKeon recommends the desirable collaboration of an interdisciplinary journal club, and another page gives techniques for critically evaluating website information. Jim Jordan’s article (p. 21) is an example of participatory research—an on-the-ground study to inform and improve a career guidance programme. Joanna Watson describes the design of a register/database of adults with intellectual disabilities in an area of central England—and its usefulness to research and service planning.

Frontline has never claimed to be a research journal; nonetheless, our aim is to continue to be a useful ‘piece of the jigsaw’—once again to quote from President McAleese’s apt metaphor to the IASSID Europe delegates last June (Frontline 51, 3)—helping to communicate the good practice and innovation among Irish intellectual disability services, to other service staff and to families, and to report on significant trends from abroad. We would like to find more effective ways to help our readers to ‘network’; please can we have your feedback—letters, suggestions, arguments and articles.

Over the years, we have published informative articles on many syndromes—but not until now on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). With a growing, if reluctant, acknowledgement that we have been too-comfortable with the drink culture in Ireland, and with the worrying evidence of binge-drinking among young people, several practitioners and primary carers are hoping to raise the awareness of FAS. As Michele Savage of Foetal Alcohol Support Ireland wrote on the Frontline website discussion board: ‘FAS and FAE are the greatest avoidable causes of learning disability …. An ongoing nationwide awareness campaign [is necessary] to inform people of and therefore lessen the damage caused by alcohol to children before birth.’ There is no blame-game in Fionnuala Kelly’s article. Frontline is in not into guilt trips. But the facts of the syndrome need to be known, even though they present further difficult choices in this ever-more-complex world.

This issue was compiled during the run-up to Christmas and the new year—a time when, despite Mr McCreevey’s dispiriting Budget, there was inspiration in the air. The staff of Cheeverstown House (p.7) organised a toy show to help their client families’ pre-holiday ‘research’. Our news pages record road-bowling exploits in Bantry, and beautiful products crafted by The Artisans in Dublin. You may have other such stories—please tell Frontline and share them with your fellow readers.

Hugh Nelson’s article on the L’Arche pilgrims along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela inspires at the deepest level—all of us need to develop the virtues of endeavour, perseverance, and living-in-the-present.

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