Skerries butcher first for autism-friendly town

by Gazette Reporter
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By Rose Barrett

FOR the team at Aidan O’Brien Butchers in Skerries, providing their customers with quality, prime Irish produce is always a priority.

But staff at the Strand Street victuallers went a step further recently when Aidan, along with dad Aidan Snr and staff member Davey, completed the first Skerries Autism Friendly Town (SAFT) course.

O’Brien’s Butchers retain the original shop front of Fox’s

The three completed a module online to gain general knowledge about autism, and what is likely to upset or trigger a young child on the spectrum.

Aidan, who co-runs the shop with his dad in recent years, is himself a father of two young children.

He told Dublin Gazette: “We gained a lot of information from participating in this project. Every day is a school day, and you’re always learning something but this was good for us to realise what is likely to trigger a child with autism, and what other parents are coping with.

“We did some general knowledge about autism, we were asked questions to see what we knew about autism, it was all a learning process.  

Artists’ impression of O’Brien’s butchers, Skerries

“It will make us more conscious to ascertain how far on the spectrum a child who comes into the shop may be. There are things we take for granted, and maybe don’t realise what a threat or trigger they are to a child with autism. For example, loud music in the background, bright lights, or sudden loud noises, banging, machinery operating.

“It opened us up to things we didn’t realise before, to think of other parents and their children and what could panic children on the spectrum when they’re in the shop”.

Aidan and his staff will take part in further SAFT initiatives. Skerries Autism Friendly Town is part of a wider AsIAm project promoting awareness, education, inclusion and acceptance of the issues facing children with autism.

Aidan O’Brien Butchers continue to trade at Fox’s which was first established as a butcher’s shop in 1906. In 1989, Aidan Senior acquired the business and together father and son run the shop today, with Aidan Junior doing all the marketing, social media, online promotions, etc.

“We’ve retained the traditional Fox’s façade,” said Aidan. “We are very much involved in the community of Skerries, and we will continue to make our premises more autism friendly, to cater for all our customers, young and old.

“Every year, we pick two charities for Christmas. Last year, one was the SAFT group, and the other was Skerries Youth Support Services which offers free counselling for youth aged 12-24 years.

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