New autism friendly initiative for council has been welcomed

by Rebecca Ryan
L-R: Cllr Deirdre Donnelly, Jen Kane Mason, Chairperson of PRISM and Geraldine Graydon, AsFan

An autism friendly initiative for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has been welcomed by a local councillor.

It follows the result of a motion proposed by Cllr Deirdre Donnelly (Ind) at Monday’s monthly council meeting.

She said: “I met with Jen Kane Mason, chairperson of PRISM and Geraldine Graydon of AsFan recently to exchange ideas on how we could make Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown a more autism friendly county.

“Autism is regularly considered the ‘invisible disability’ in that it may not always be obvious that the individual has difficulties with the environment that they are exposed to.

“There are measures that can be taken to try and make life that bit easier in the county for those who are on the autism spectrum and their families.”

Cllr Donnelly said she tabled a motion, asking the council to acknowledge that the needs of people with autism in areas, such as communication and sensory processing are often overlooked.

She said their rights should be supported if they want to avail of DLRCOCO services.

“I also included in the motion that training of staff involved in service design and delivery, in order to create an autism friendly environment should be encouraged.

“I was delighted that this was passed unanimously,” added Cllr Donnelly.

Geraldine Graydon, an Autism Advisor and Advocate with AsFan (The Autism Spectrum Family Advocacy Network) welcomed this motion.

Speaking on why an autism friendly County Council is so important, she said: “Autism friendly means being aware of social engagement and environmental factors affecting people on the autism spectrum, with modifications to communication methods and physical space to better suit individual’s unique and special needs.

“Knowing about these differences and how to react effectively helps to create a more inclusive society.

“It also better suits the needs of the growing number of individuals with autism, Asperger syndrome, or other disorders on the autism spectrum.”

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