Ireland is about to get its first ever 'Autism-friendly' town 2 years ago

Ireland is about to get its first ever 'Autism-friendly' town

A step in the right direction.

Clonakilty is aiming to become the first Autism-friendly town in the country.

On Monday 2 July, Scally’s Supervalu – in collaboration with Musgrave’s, Autism advocacy organisation AsIAm and Middletown Centre for Autism – had a launch in the GAA building in Clonakilty for the town to become Ireland’s first autism-friendly town in Ireland.

Over the course of the next four months Adam Harris, founder of AsIAm, along with his team will be working with the entire community to receive official Autism Friendly Accreditation.

"Through this initiative, we are looking forward to mainstreaming autism and making big changes for the autism community,” he said.

The move aims to see local businesses, organisations, and community groups undergo training and organisational changes to ensure they secure full autism-friendly accreditation.

AsIAm and SuperValu boast a long-standing relationship, which has seen over 100 SuperValu retailers around the country implement changes in-store that would ensure that members of the autism community could enjoy a better shopping experience.

Back in 2015, Scally’s SuperValu in Clonakilty was the first retailer in Ireland to implement this.

Now, the town of Clonakilty has undertaken a commitment to combine the efforts of the entire community to become fully autism-friendly — the first of its kind in Ireland.

To receive official autism-friendly accreditation, the town as a whole must commit to:

- Engagement and training of 25% of businesses and voluntary organisations;

- Engagement and training of 50% of public services;

- Engagement and training of 50% of school communities;

- Engagement and training of 50% of healthcare professionals;

- Engagement of three employers;

- Reaching 25% of the town’s population.

Over the next four months, autism groups plan to work with local businesses to improve training to provide Autism Friendly Accreditation.

Harris, who is a brother of Minister for Health Simon Harris, said that the initiative was incredibly exciting and that it was great to see this project become a reality.

"We are constantly striving to increase awareness of autism and helping people understand ways in which they can be more inclusive for our community," he said.

"This initiative is incredibly exciting and at AsIAm we are looking forward to working with SuperValu and the community of Clonakilty to make this a reality.

"The response has been overwhelming already and the energy in the town has blown us away. Through this initiative, we are looking forward to mainstreaming autism and making big changes for the Autism Community."