Using a combination of practical supports and an online platform geared towards information sharing, AsIAm.ie is encouraging and promoting a society of inclusion surrounding autism in Ireland.
Despite affecting approximately 1 in 100 people, autism remains a relatively misunderstood condition in Ireland. Presenting significant challenges with issues such as communication, imagination, interaction and sensory processing, autism impacts the lives of individuals in various ways and to varying degrees. Despite its prevalence, those with the condition frequently feel isolated and disconnected. Parents who receive a diagnosis for a child often don’t know where to turn, and those living with the condition find it hard to come to terms with the challenges they face. While there is undoubtedly a responsibility on the medical and political professions to provide for this community, there is also a need for society at large to change how they see those with the condition.
Adam was born with Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum. He considers himself extremely fortunate, having benefitted from early intervention, allowing him to lead an extremely full life today. Despite this positive outcome, he remained conscious of those that were unlikely to receive such support, and felt that he had a duty to give back. AsIAm.ie was established in 2013 with the goal of encouraging a society of inclusion. The organisation does this in four ways; Education, Empowerment, Advocacy, and Community Participation. The online platform allows the autism community across Ireland to communicate with each other, sharing knowledge and advice. In addition, AsIAm.ie is working with schools and businesses nationally, supporting individuals in these sectors who are committed to improving inclusion standards.
AsIAm.ie is already having a huge impact on the autism community in Ireland. In the past 12 months alone the website has received over 50,000 visitors, with more than 30 schools participating in their awareness raising programme. In addition, AsIAm.ie have launched a series of community initiatives to engage local businesses and retailers, supporting participating organisations in their efforts to make their services more autism friendly. Adam has also recruited dozens of local liaison officers to help carry out the organisation’s mapping of national and local services for those in need. This combination of practical support and information sharing provides AsIAm.ie with the opportunity to substantially improve the lives of thousands of individuals and families around Ireland.
Being an SEI Awardee has provided me with the support, mentorship and confidence to develop AsIAm.ie and set it on a firm footing and a clear path.