Aug 14, 2020,Tory Island, Donegal News: Tory to become first autism friendly island https://donegalnews.com/2020/08/tory-to-become-first-autism-friendly-island/ TORY is on the road to becoming Ireland’s first autism friendly island with members of the business community receiving training from Autism Awareness Northwest. The first step was taken last week when a training day was held on the island with business owners, families and members of the school community coming together to hear about the initiative. Shops will now display stickers in their windows to show staff are undergoing autism training and it is hoped that the project will boost tourism on the island…. “By creating a greater understanding of Autism and by working with local businesses and tourism attractions we can also make it easier for those on the Autism spectrum to visit and enjoy Donegal,” Emily told the Donegal News. “We’re delighted that Tory Island have taken the first step in becoming the first island of Ireland to become autism friendly. As a group we facilitate workshops, relevant training and information events to help raise Autism awareness and acceptance. We support local businesses in helping them become more autism friendly and we are delighted with the positive response.” The group was initially called Autism Awareness Gaoth Dobhair and rebranded at the start of the year, taking in a wider area. Explaining how the group came together Emily said: “I read that Clonakilty was the first village to become autism friendly and I thought we should be doing this. It would benefit every town and we took it from there…. The training day on Tory Island was due to take place in March but was delayed because of Covid-19. Starting off with the ferry, visitors to the island will be able to make them aware that they are travelling with someone with autism. There will be visual aids to show the child what the boat will look like and who will be driving the ferry as well as new signage on the island.
“Over the course of the year we will visit schools and will provide different strategies and coping mechanisms. We will go to the hotel and suggest a quiet room to use if a child is overstimulated. We will be meeting the different business sections individually and they will receive stickers and displays at their front window,” said Emily. “Everyone has been so accommodating and this has been such a rewarding initiative to start. I didn’t realise some of the struggles families are going through until they got in touch with us. It is very positive and seems to be getting bigger and bigger.”