Earlier this year we (finally) got a diagnosis for Roisin that she was on the Autistic Spectrum. We’d suspected for some years that she has Aspergers Syndrome or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD); but it wasn’t until her assessment last October, and subsequent discussions, that we got this diagnosis.
What this means is that it’s opened a number of doors to services that were previously not available. These are provided by the excellent ASD team at Co-Action. As well as the services there’s a parents support group and it’s great to be able to get together with people to share experiences and support each other.
To help the parents group I’ve set up a web site Autism West Cork. The site doesn’t have much in the way of content yet; but there is a forum for parents of children under Co-Action’s care. I hope you’ll take a look at the site and let me know if there’s anything you think should be on it.
Just found out that today is World Autism Awareness Day. I guess it’s something that really needs promoting and support. I didn’t know there was such a thing as World Autism Awareness Day so that must be a reflection of how little the public know and understand about this condition.
In the last week in August we were very fortunate to be offered a place on the first surf camp to be run in Ireland for Children with Autism; Surf2Heal. Our daughter, who’s eight, had only recently been diagnosed with the condition this was the first opportunity for us to meet with other parents of autistic children as well as an opportunity for Roisin to try surfing.
The camp was being run by Garrettstown Surf School near Kinsale, Co. Cork. Somehow they’d amassed an army of volunteers to help out with the weeks activities from autism professionals, speech and language exports and special needs assistants there was a body of trained and dedicated people to help support us and Rosin during the weeks activities.
I was unsure at the start of the week just how things would go. Each child was booked for an hour and a half session in the sea with two instructors. I know Roisin loves the sea; but I wasn’t sure if she’d rebel at putting a wet suit on or just how she’d manage going out into deeper water. My initial fears were soon allayed. The wet suit was no problem (I think because she was prepared for this) and each child was fitted with a buoyancy aid so she felt safe in the sea.
She had a fantastic time and by the third day was able to stand on the surf board. The smile on her face is a memory I shall carry with me for the rest of my life; it was a beautiful thing to see.
I’m not going to go into too much detail about the activities; but instead I want to thank the people involved:
- Jon and Alayne Hynes who own the Garrettstown Surf School for making this event happen. They must have given so much time over the year to put this together as well as making their premises and staff available for the event.
- Roisin’s instructors in the water, Triona and Keeley. Their enthusiasm and spirit never wavered the entire week despite taking 4 sessions every day and at all times they kept Roisin safe and having fun in the water.
- All the other volunteers who helped bring the week together and make it such a safe and enjoyable week for the children and parents alike.
- Portwest Clothing who supplied the wet suits. Each child came away at the end of the week with their own wet suit.
- MARTINS, the Maritime Training In Safety initiative who supplied a lot of the sponsorship for the event and the National Maritime College Of Ireland through whom the funds were obtained.
- Ernest J Cantillon & Co Solicitors who sponsored specially commissioned surf boards for the event.
Apologies to anyone or any organization that I’ve left out.
Looking forward the week has opened a whole world of possibilities for all of us and I’m determined to build on the experience for Roisin. So clear the beach, here we come……