Committee aims to make Mallow an autism-friendly town

Members of Mallow Autism Friendly Committee pictured at a meeting in Mallow GAA Complex on Monday night to discuss making the town of Mallow autism-friendly; pictured are Emily Ahern, Dr. Aimie Brennan, Cian Moriarty, Karen O’Sullivan, Lorraine Donnery, Community Garda John FitzGerald, Eleanor Fitzpatrick, and Orla Hartnett. Photo, S murphy.

Mallow Autism Friendly Committee held its first public meeting last Monday in Mallow GAA Complex. The Committee, established by local election candidate Cian Moriarty, aims to make Mallow and surrounding towns and villages autism-friendly, following in the footsteps of Clonakilty which became the first town in Ireland to achieve the status in 2018. The autism-friendly community status is awarded by ‘As I Am’, a national autism charity, founded by Adam Harris and the project is sponsored by SuperValu.
‘As I Am’ describe autism as a developmental condition which means that the way a person communicates, interacts and understands other people, and their environment, is different to those who do not have the condition. For example, autistic people can find sensory stimulation such as bright lights or loud noises very distracting and can cause them anxiety. As part of becoming autism-friendly, retailers and businesses will be asked to undergo some free training on the condition and to provide quiet hours in their premises.
Speakers at the meeting included the autism-friendly community coordinators from ‘As I Am’, Aisling Foran and Erica Fagan, a member of the Clonakilty committee, Elaine McGoldrick, who is herself autistic, and Tony O’Donovan, inventor of the Alf Trolley which is a shopping trolley fitted with a story board to help autistic children see what is going to happen during their shopping trip, thus reducing their anxiety.
During the meeting, attendees were also asked for their views on what they feel is working well in Mallow and what they think could be improved. These views will inform the development of an action plan for the committee.
Speaking to The Mallow Star, Cian Moriarty said, “I established the committee and submitted Mallow’s application to the programme earlier this year because I believe that we are capable of achieving great things as a community. This is the first in a series of new initiatives that I will bring to Mallow if I am elected in the upcoming local elections.”
The Mallow Autism Friendly Committee is made up of representatives from across the community, including Emily Ahern, Karen O’Sullivan, Dr Aimie Brennan, Orla Hartnett, Eleanor Fitzpatrick, Community Garda John Fitzgerald, and Lorraine Dennehy.
You can follow the progress of the committee at: @MallowAutism (Twitter); Mallow Autism Friendly (Facebook) and mallowautismfriendly (Instagram)