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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Sneem rolls up its sleeves to help those living with autism

Sneem has already taken significant strides in making its village more autism-friendly, but even more good work is inevitable as it was accepted in recent days to AsIAm’s Autism Friendly Communities Programme.

he nationwide programme aims to make communities more aware of the barriers facing those with autism and will help those communities to clear those barriers. Sneem and the other accepted towns and villages must commit to enacting at least one positive change in the community, create a three-year inclusion plan, undergo an environmental evaluation, amongst other requirements, while participating local businesses will also get involved in several ways, such as ensuring that their premises is assistance-dog friendly.

“I’m a local school teacher, and I’m involved with Autism Friendly Sneem alongside three others: Jane O’Sullivan, Aideen O’Leary, and Niamh Geraghty,” Claudine O’Sullivan Davies told The Kerryman a few days after Sneem was accepted into the programme.

“I was involved in setting up a special class [at St Michael’s National School] and I’ve been teaching in that class for the past two years.

“This [Autism Friendly Communities Programme] is an ongoing project, so we’re not recognised per se yet, but we are working in partnership with AsIAm to make us more autism friendly, and we’re delighted to have been accepted.”

Aside from setting up a special class at the local school, Sneem has taken major steps to help those with autism in recent times, and the next steps aren’t too far away.

Total Motorhomes Ireland recently fund-raised €1,570, and one of the first projects the locality will take on is procuring sensory boxes – boxes which include sensory equipment that can help those with autism – and these would be made available at businesses and services locally. A sensory garden has also been mentioned as an ambition.

Claudine also thanked Kerry County Council and Kieran O’Halloran for a walkway that has made a local bridge more accessible for those with autism, while Sneem Tidy Towns has also received praise from the group for its work to date.

“But one of the big things will be to raise education and awareness of autism,” said Claudine. “Having worked with people with autism, they’re living in a world that isn’t really built for them, and we’re trying to be more inclusive.”

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