Irish Autism Action was formed in 2001 to bring positive change into the lives of those affected by autism. The range of services which Irish Autism Action provides include raising awareness, information on education & intervention support, advocacy, counselling, home based support, research information and advice for families. As a charity that does not receive any government funding, our annual income is raised through a variety of different fundraising events and projects. The charity is therefore very dependent upon the generosity of the general public and without this support, we would not be able to continue to provide this vital support to families throughout Ireland. 1 in 100 people are affected by autism. This staggering statistic provides some idea of the scale of the issue in Ireland today. Irish Autism Action is striving forward in addressing this by lobbying a national campaign for the government to commit to a national strategy on autism. In 2016, Irish Autism Action managed to secure the support of the government to back the first ever Irish Autism Awareness Day, 8 years on from the first ever World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd 2008 declared and supported by the United Nations. Irish Autism Action are looking to create a more autism aware and friendly society to provide better support and respect for the 276,000 people in Ireland living with autism.
Information and support service:
We receive more calls to our office than we can physically answer. This is due to the number of calls we get and indeed the length of time a call can take.
For this reason, we would prefer and appreciate if you contact us by e mail. That way, we have a record of your concern / query and some understanding of the issue at hand.
‘I really just wanted to thank you so much for all your help, you truly have been a massive support and it means a lot. Your advice was spot on and you have been a tremendous help. I have been able to speak to people who are on my wavelength…which in turn has been a great help to both myself and my daughter. I got a wonderful phone call earlier and was told the review of our DCA refusal has been at last allowed!!! Without your advice I’d still be fighting by myself and wondering if maybe we didn’t qualify for DCA, thank you so much!!! Words simply can’t express’.
Advocacy – Individual and National:
IAA is contacted every day by individuals seeking representation and support on a broad range of issues. These include application for entitlements, legal enquiries, recommendations for therapy practitioners, requests for fund raising support, representation at Section 29 hearings, among many others.
IAA also acts as a national voice for the autism community to guide and influence public policy on autism. While substantial service gaps remain in public services in the area, only a strong collective voice can direct government to appropriate solutions. Notable achievements in this area were the formal acceptance of the former pilot ABA schools into the national educational. IAA was also instrumental in the establishment of the Domiciliary Care Review Committee and continues to participate in that forum.
This is a service an in-home service provided to families in crisis. The reasons for these crises are diverse and varied, and the outreach effort is customised to help the particular situation. The ever changing nature of the problem creates a growing knowledge base amongst the team, which typically helps to find solutions to other families, encountering similar problems. A common intervention is where a child is expelled from school as their behaviour becomes unmanageable to the staff of their school. In these cases, IAA Behaviour analysts devise a specific behaviour support plan aimed at controlling the behaviour, and allowing the child to be reintegrated into their school. In cases where the original school is not an appropriate educational placement for the child, IAA then advocates on behalf of the family to obtain the right placement to support the child’s needs.
Behavioural Outreach: Testimonial
‘Thanks so much to Irish Autism Action for their amazing support for our family. Our eldest son has autism and he was going through a really difficult time. We have two younger daughters and our eldest girt was about to start school. She was quite anxious about this but the majority of our time was being spent trying to deal with the many challenges we were facing with our son including self injurious harm, prolonged crying outbursts ad anxiety. We needed to help all our children and knew our youngest daughter was also about to start pre school. We contacted Kevin Whelan (IAA) and he came to meet us. We outlined all our challenges and how difficult it was to even have something as simple as a family meal together. Kevin was understanding, supportive and told us that he was going to help us. Within a few days he phoned me and asked if I was available to meet the outreach support and the support worker met our son the following week and maintained that support for almost 6 months at no cost to our family. It was brilliant as she managed to teach us different methods to help calm our son and make him happier and gave us some time to spend with our daughters to prepare them for their life journey’s too. Living with autism can be really difficult and some days it is like a battle for survival. Getting up in the morning and hoping that you can make it through another day. It is comforting to know that there are people out there who do care and certainly our family owes a huge debt of gratitude to Irish Autism Action’
Autism Friendly Campaigns:
IAA has partnered with both the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) and Tayto Park. As both companies were keen to make their facilities more autism friendly, they approached IAA to help them achieve that. As a direct result, the Autism ID Card now provides expedited transit through Dublin and Shannon Airports to families travelling with an autistic child. In addition, the IAA team designed visual schedules to assist young people with autism navigate what otherwise can be a stressful experience of getting through a busy airport.
The team at Tayto Park regularly encounter families having to leave early, because a child with autism finds the environment too difficult to manage – often because of excessive noise, the inability to wait in a queue etc. In order to prevent this, IAA staff got involved to provide awareness and training on how to deal with the situations they encounter. While individuals and situations can all vary, the staff feel better equipped than ever to assist all families enjoy their wonderful facility.
Autism ID Card : Testimonial
‘I recently got my IAA card for our son K. We were travelling to Paris and made great use of this at Disneyland Paris. Many thanks for this it was a big help with the waiting. Also I wanted to shout out how great Shannon airport was with assisting us with K. They have a fantastic set up for travellers with ASD. It is really a wonderful service and I believe without your dedication this would not have been possible as ASD would not be as well known.’
IAA hostsclinics from time to time on Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) and Occupational Therapy(OT). These clinics are generally not free, but are subsidised by IAA. Notice of clinics are published in advance on our web site.
IAA runs a number of training programmes, which vary over time. In partnership with Early Childhood Ireland, in the past two years, IAA has developed and delivered a wide array of training programmes. These include:
- The Step Ahead Programme.
Irish Autism Action have also run the very successful Step Ahead programme, on four occasions in the past year. This is a 14 week inter disciplinary programme for children under the age of 5 with ASD. Children received individualized instruction, with goals and intervention strategies devised by a team comprised of our Behaviour Analyst, Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist and Psychologist. Parent coaching and information sessions were also part of the programme and addressed sensory needs, accessing benefits and entitlements, preparing for school and self-care for parents.
Testimonial 1 Step Ahead :
‘Our lives have changed so much from taking part in the Step Ahead Programme. My son Jude, just turned 3 years old, has severe autism and is non-verbal. He can now communicate a lot non-verbally. He couldn’t at all before, he scored 0.01% communication with HSE assessment. Now he is so much happier’
Testimonial 2 Step Ahead :
The Step Ahead programme is a very welcome opportunity for my 2 children, J and Evan who are on the autism spectrum, to benefit from the skills and expertise of the team in Irish Autism Action. I feel early intervention is so paramount for our children to get them the specialist help the desperately need. It is very frustrating as parents to find that the services such as speech and language and occupational therapy are so poor for these children and it is a constant battle to access basic services for our children. The team at IAA are very dedicated to helping J and E reach their true potential and as parents that is what we strive for. This programme also offers support to us parents who often feel isolated in this tsunami of autism and are very grateful for advice from the team.
- Autism Specific Teacher Training Across Ireland.
Early Childhood Ireland and Irish Autism Action completed phase 1 of the training programme aimed at supporting early childhood providers in providing an inclusive environment for children with autism in their settings. The programme consisted of 3 sessions addressing the unique language, communication, sensory and behavioural needs of young children with autism. Phase 2 will commence in autumn 2016 with details available by clicking here http://accessautism.ie/training-schedule-february-2016/
- The Early Start Denver Model:
This is a highly respected evidence-based early intervention programme which originated in the US at the MIND institute. This was brought to Ireland by IAA in November 2015 to train 20 professionals in leading edge early intervention techniques. For more information see: https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/treatment/early-start-denver-model-esdm