I haven’t had the opportunity to write my own blog on the site for a few weeks as we have been busily planning for an exciting first year of programmes and campaigns, which will kick off in September!

We are really looking forward to unveil in the coming weeks a months a new schools programme, aimed at increasing autism awareness in primary and secondary school communities, and an employment toolkit for those with Autism.

These programmes will not only help us bring our message of inclusion and disABILITY to a much wider audience across the Island of Ireland but will also provide us with an opportunity to showcase the power an online platform, like AsIAm, has to make seriously positive social impact offline.

These two projects arose from conversations we have enjoyed having with thousands of parents and people with Autism around Ireland and through submissions about the difficulties of school and adult life on the website. We are a user-led movement and we will always do all we can to ensure that the campaigns and initiatives we undertake come from you, are for you and are led by you.

We will be seeking your guidance and input on both programmes as they are developed and will also be doing a call-out for volunteers to provide our workshops in schools around Ireland. This will help ensure that every county has access to a schools speaker and that those speakers have experience of Autism, through living with it, through a family member or through working professionally with people with Autism.

This all leads us to our exciting new AsIAm Liaison Officer meeting. We want our website and services to reflect the wishes and concerns of the Autism community in all parts of Ireland. To that end, we recently put in place a network of local leaders to help bring our message and services to local communities, and to feedback the concerns of these communities to us centrally for the purposes of planning campaigns and improving our services.

I am thrilled to say we held our first meeting last Saturday and it was a tremendous success. We have an amazing team of self-advocates, parents and professionals committed to AsIAm.ie’s vision, who are already doing amazing work on the ground and bring a wide range of backgrounds and expertise to our organisation.

We had a very insightful brainstorming session where issues from inclusion policies in shopping centres to education and law enforcement were discussed. The discussion enabled our officers to bring local concerns to us, we will now examine these issues and report back at our next meeting in October.

Our network will also be an essential part of our schools and employment programme and in the new mapping of support services we hope to add to our site.

In other news, I have been travelling quite extensively to speak about AsIAm and we are hard at work to put in place a funding stream which will enable us to grow and be a sustainable organisation.

The work continues.