Mallow is on the way to becoming autism-friendly

Orla Hartnett, Eleanor Fitzpatrick, Cian Moriarty, Trish Howell, and Lorraine Donnery, pictured at Dano’s SuperValu Mallow which has introduced autism-friendly initiatives.

Mallow is among 11 Irish towns on the journey to becoming autism-friendly. SuperValu, in partnership with AsIAm, Ireland’s national autism charity and advocacy organisation, last year announced Clonakilty as Ireland’s first Autism-Friendly Town, and 11 towns, including Mallow, are now on the journey to join them. In conjunction with the announcement, a survey conducted by AsIAm showed that, at present, the autism community does not find society accessible, understanding and inclusive – but that simple steps could be taken to help change this. A total of 240 people were surveyed who either have autism or know someone closely who does. Those surveyed were asked several questions about their perception of how autism is recognised and understood in retail and in the wider community. Despite the majority of those surveyed claiming that the public do not understand enough about autism, 71% believe awareness and understanding of autism has increased in Ireland in the last year. On this, AsIAm CEO Adam Harris says that “awareness and understanding of autism needs to shift to acceptance and support.”
Simple measures can be the difference between exclusion and inclusion, and the survey showed it wouldn’t take a lot for people with autism to have their experiences improved. For example, 50% of respondents said that, even if staff were understanding of autism, it would greatly improve their experience.
Paul O’Mahony, owner of SuperValu Mallow commented, “SuperValu Mallow is delighted to be on a journey to help make our community more autism-friendly. As well as autism-friendly shopping in our store, we’re working with organisations and businesses throughout the community to make Mallow inclusive and autism-friendly. We have a fantastic Autism Friendly Committee here in Mallow. I am confident that our journey to getting accreditation will be a successful one!”
AsIAM CEO Adam Harris added, “As Ireland’s National Autism Organisation, we are proud to have developed a robust but achievable framework for communities to become autism-friendly, in partnership with our colleagues in SuperValu. Autistic people live, work and play in every community across the country. Too often a lack of understanding prevents autistic people from fully participating and contributing to the community. Small steps can make a big difference, and communities working together to increase understanding and improve accessibility will bring about happier, healthier lives for autistic people. We look forward to supporting these towns as they go on the journey towards our accreditation.”