Cobh aims to be Cork's second autism-friendly town

Cobh aims to be Cork's second autism-friendly town

Cobh is aiming to become the county’s second autism-friendly town and Cork County Council is to back a local group planning the move.

A meeting of the Cobh Municipal District Council heard a proposal from Cllr Sinead Sheppard that the local authority do everything in its power to make the town more inclusive for autistic people and their families.

While Clonakilty had become the first town in the county to achieve official recognition for this, it was her hope that her hometown would be the second.

Cllr Sheppard said businesses, schools and three major employers have to train up people to a certain standard to achieve the designation.

We (the council) have to develop a three-year autism-friendly town plan. It would help people, it’s about acceptance and social integration.

"We talk about taking down barriers and we need to do this. If Clonakilty is able to do it, there is no reason why Cobh can’t do it,” she said.

Among the proposals was that supermarkets could do an autism-friendly shopping experience once a month. She asked municipal district officer Paraig Lynch to provide a comprehensive report on what the council could do. He said he would also talk to council officials who had helped Clonakilty gain the autism-friendly status.

Cllr Cathal Rasmussen said he knew of a local group which was aiming for the same designation and were preparing to make an application. “We need to support them and maybe we can provide them with grants to help as well,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cllr James O’Connor won unanimous support from colleagues at a meeting of the East Cork Municipal District Council when he called for something to be done by the Department of Education about the lack of educational facilities and supports in the region to cater for children with learning and development difficulties.

Cllr O’Connor said there is a “current shortage of early intervention treatment” in the municipal district.

He said he was particularly referring to autism, for which there are no proper supports in place in secondary schools in the region, particularly for those at the extreme end of the spectrum.

It breaks my heart when people are on the phone to me saying they’re up and down to schools in Dungarvan or Cork city. There is a need for this to be done.

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