Autism service AsIAm sees staggering 280% increase in queries

Autism service AsIAm sees staggering 280% increase in queries

Adam Harris CEO of AsIAm, Ireland's National Autism Charity.Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

THIS World Autism Day, the public is urged to help raise vital funds to help meet the rapidly growing needs of families requiring support and guidance for children and adults with autism.

Over the last year, AsIAm has seen a staggering increase of 280% in queries to the service.

Autism is a lifelong, developmental condition that relates to how a person communicates, interacts and experiences the world around them and according to AsIAm, one in 65 Irish people are autistic.

CEO of AsIAm Adam Harris said that World Autism Month is “an important milestone which aims to create understanding and acceptance so we can have a more inclusive society”.

“We know that many autistic people and their families are experiencing major challenges due to Covid-19 particularly in relation to the loss of routine and structure and the closure of essential services has had a long-term impact.

“Our community will need significant support to come through this period and re-connect with day-to-day routines.”

The Rainbow Club provides services and activities for up to 500 children and young people with autism in Cork.

Karen O’Mahony and her husband founded the club six years ago and, over the past few years, they have seen an increase in the number of families using their services as they continue to expand.

The club has worked hard to ensure that they can continue providing services to families in Cork and have operated safely and at a reduced capacity over the past few months.

Covid-19 has made it extremely difficult for charities to fundraise and the Rainbow Club has missed out on many of its major events.

Last year, they were down between €50,000 and €90,000 though Ms O’Mahony has praised parents and local businesses in Cork for their continued support.

“It’s a challenge, it’s always been a challenge but at this point, really it hasn’t broken us. It has actually made us stronger than ever to come back and to reopen the club last summer and to still be able to provide support and activities to families that need it every week.”

As part of this month’s campaign, AsIAm is asking the public to donate on asiam.ie/donate and share #AutismMonthSayYes.

In addition, people can help develop their understanding of autism by picking up a “Say Yes to Autism Acceptance” Guide in their local SuperValu store.

To donate directly to Rainbow Club Cork, visit rainbowclub.ie.

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