AsIAm.ie developed this programme in the hope of making school easier for teenagers with autism, who can often feel misunderstood, and to bring about an awareness of autism among young people generally.
The workshop is designed for class groups of students. We aim to provide single or multiple workshops within a school.
The workshop is suitable for groups from 1st Year through to 6th Year. First Years benefit from the workshop to ensure they are aware of autism from their earliest days in their new school. We have found that Transition Year is an excellent time for students to develop an awareness, understanding and acceptance of autism and bring this information to the rest of their peers and into their workplace and adult lives.
Sometimes the workshop is requested in response to the experiences of a student with autism or their desire for others to understand the condition more. Other times, it is for raising general awareness within a school community and we are always happy to cater for the particular needs and interests of a school.
Our speakers are local volunteers with personal experience of Autism. They may have autism themselves. have a family member with the condition or have professional experience in the area of autism. All are selected, trained and have received Garda/PSNI Clearance by AsIAm. An important element of the workshop is the speaker sharing their own experiences with the students.
Our workshop takes place over 90 minutes. During this time students will gain a practical understanding of autism and have stereotypes and preconceptions challenged. Over the course of 90 minutes, students are taken on a journey through the various strengths and challenges of people with autism. They gain a small insight into what life can be like for a person with autism through a series of interactive and sensory activities and the first hand experiences of our volunteer speakers. The workshop is intended as a starting point for students and staff to build a more inclusive and considerate school for everyone.
To meet the real need that exists for promoting greater awareness among peers, we continue to engage volunteers, provide training and develop new ways of delivering the programme to reach as many students nationwide as possible. This all comes at a cost. AsIAm does not receive specific funding for this programme and demand is high. To that end, we ask schools to make a contribution to our work.
We are aware schools often pay private companies to provide training and workshops and aim to make our requested contribution competitive against this backdrop – noting that all funds raised go straight back into our work.
When a school gets in touch, we can discuss the relevant suggested contributions.
Autism is a big subject and no two people with the condition are affected in exactly the same way. For this reason, we work to tailor every workshop to the needs of the school and, most importantly, the views, concerns and experiences of young people attending the school who have autism.
AsIAm, as an organisation, is acutely conscious of each student’s individual rights. We are governed by policies relating to the safety of children, vulnerable persons and data protection. For this reason, certain protocols are in place for our speakers and the school that they visit.
We require each school who wishes to work with us to agree to commit to engaging with our work – to continue to help students to create a long-lasting ethos of inclusion and acceptance. We suggest that parents are informed in advance of the workshop to help provide the speaker with any relevant information about an individual student or their family member with autism. This will help shape the content of the workshop without any reference or identity of the student concerned.
Due to the success of this programme to date, demand is exceeding our ability to provide. The programme depends on local volunteer speakers who are trained and Garda vetted by AsIAm. Unfortunately, in some areas of the country we have not been able to recruit volunteers and therefore it may not be possible to provide the workshop at this particular time. We constantly strive to engage volunteers and run training courses each academic year.
In order to allow all students to access this valuable information we are currently developing an online model which can be easily delivered by teachers directly to students.
If you would like to apply to have an AsIAm Secondary School Workshop at your school please complete the form below.
Once your application has been received you will receive a reply indicating that an AsIAm School Speaker will be in touch or that your request has been added to a waiting list for when a speaker becomes available in your area. Applications can only be made by a member of school staff.