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(Ireland) As I Am autism charity failing children while seeking better understanding, acceptance

Sept 10, 2023, Dublin mum behind autism fundraiser The Sparkle Ball is fighting back against 'no services, no help and no support'

She has three children as well as her step-son Michael, who works tirelessly alongside her to raise funds and awareness for people with autism, raising €224,000 [$240K] to date

Dublin mum and autism advocate Ciara Jones is in the process of organising the biggest iteration of her glamorous event The Sparkle Ball for Autism to date.
Not only is this event an excuse to get dressed up and enjoy an evening of great food and entertainment, it's an event with heart, as every penny raised goes into funding services for autistic people in Ireland via the charity AsIAm.

Her teenage son Gavin is autistic, and is the driving force behind her family's fight for better services and understanding.

Ciara has been on what she describes as a "never ending" career break since 2018 so she can dedicate more time to her family, and her advocacy work has gone from strength to strength since....

Michael, as well as being a barrister, has dedicated his life to the autism community of Ireland, and also holds the roll of Head of Community Support at AsIAm.

“My son Gavin was diagnosed as being autistic back in 2011 when he was almost two years old. I started fundraising at that stage for his creches as there is such a lack of services out there," she told RSVP Live.

"At the time, going back 14 years ago there was even less understanding - we’re not even at the point that we should be now in the terms of understanding - but we are now aware of autism, but we still have so much work to do around acceptance and understanding what it means to be an autistic person in Ireland."

"Gavin was the key director for me as to where I should be supporting, like for his creches, and then when he was in primary school I raised money for the primary school to have more services and access to the things they needed to function." Her fundraising was a natural part of advocating for her own child's best interests due to a lack of governmentally provided services, with an annual parachute jump, 5km family run and the Sparkle Ball all raising funds for the deserving charity AsIAm each year. ...

"Founder and CEO Adam Harris started off with a vision, that people would better understand and accept, and create a more inclusive society in which autistic people can live their best lives. He now has 30 people working in AsIAm, with 50% of them being neurodivergent which is incredible. " ...

Four years ago she opened The Autism Support Hub. A unique entity in Ireland, the hub aims to support families and parents of autistic people.

"There is a lot of paperwork but no services, no help and no support, we only have AsIAm to support us in terms of a national autism charity, and I just wanted a place where parents can fall in the door seeking help, and get it."

"It's an immense support for parents, it helps and encourages them until they are ready to go on this journey alone."...

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