140821_M1_78It has been an exciting few weeks since my last blog, with the launch of our “Back to School” Handbooks, the release of a new version of our website and the preparation for the unveiling of our School workshops.

Back to School Workshops

We were delighted to have received such positive feedback on the “Back to School” handbooks. It was a big task of work writing, collecting and collating the information they contain and we have been really touched to hear that they are of support to teachers, parents and students – that always makes the hard work seem worthwhile!

We had the opportunity to promote the handbooks on national television, radio and print media and also in a wide number of local media outlets. This allowed us reach a wide audience and to achieve record traffic on AsIAm.ie – interestingly it also brought us in touch with many different schools and teachers. Schools are often seen as resistant to supporting students with Autism, however we were pleasantly surprised with the number who got in touch with us to thank us for the guide, ask us to visit and speak to teachers or enquire about the forthcoming schools workshops. This highlights an important point, there are certainly schools who want to learn more about Autism, and to make a positive difference, yet they do not receive the training and support they need – which makes both this programme and the campaign to increase training opportunities for teachers all the more important.

I would like to thank everyone who has downloaded the handbooks to date – we were amazed at how they seem to have reached schools and counties we haven’t even visited or been in touch with – good job guys, please keep it up! We will definitely expand the series in the coming months and also look at handbooks opportunities for other industries and sectors overtime.

New Website

We really hope you like our new edition of the website. AsIAm.ie is now live for 10 months and over time that time we identified areas which we could improve and enhance.

The website is now slicker, more user-friendly and cross-browser compatible. It is also compatible with smartphones and tablet devices. We hope these changes will make your experience, as a user, more enjoyable and informative.

To comment, post events or register, you now can log-in through Facebook, make the registration process significantly easier for all involved. We believe this will lead to greater interactivity on the site and we are already beginning to see the fruits of this, with an increase in the number of comments being posted.

We would ask you to share any feedback or additional ideas, you might have, with us. We are not finished yet either – in the coming weeks we will add a mapping feature to the site so that you can find Autism services, “spectrum friendly” events and businesses and private clinical services. We hope this will help make us a “one-stop-shop” resource and prove a vital tool for individuals and families looking for support in a range of areas. We will be looking for your input into this, so stay tuned!

We are greatly indebted to our design team in Cream Graphics for all their work and assistance with our platform, they keep going that extra mile in helping us create a unique and powerful tool for the Autism community.

School Workshops

Our next piece of work will be to unveil our school workshops, aimed at all students in both National and Secondary mainstream schools. We believe we can only build inclusion in Irish classrooms by giving students a real insight into the condition and a role in making their schools more Autism friendly.

We have been creating the workshop for a number of months now and will pilot it in a number of schools in the coming weeks. We will then unveil the workshops and seek expressions of interests from speakers and schools. We aim to reach a minimum of 100 schools in this academic year. We hope to train the speakers in November and reach schools in January.

Be sure to check back to find out more.

Take-off

I am really delighted to see the site looking so well, receiving so many enquiries and offers of support and attracting such attention from the community and media. We believe this is start of something special and we will continue to work to grow our content, programmes and the range of industries and sectors we reach.

I have a busy week ahead, with a school visit in Carlow, training for young volunteers in an AS youth club and a big interview with Social Entrepreneurs Ireland for the Elevate Competition.

We will keep you posted as things progress – please keep spreading the word!