By Aisling O’Connor
The University of Limerick joined a worldwide movement to mark World Autism Awareness Day by lighting campus buildings blue on April 2.
UL joined more than 100 countries, 1,000 cities and 8,000 including the Empire State Building and the International Space Station to raise awareness to autism.
Dr Jennifer McMahon, founder and co-director of the i-TEACH lab (Lab for Inclusive Teaching) and lecturer in Psychology of Education, instigated the event.
“Much of the research conducted in the i-TEACH lab is in the area of autism and it was very important for us to join the global community in supporting children and adults with autism and to shine a light on the work we do here at UL. We want everyone to know that the University of Limerick is committed to improving the quality of life for people with autism.” Dr McMahon said.
Over 300 students graduate from the Department of Education & Professional Studies every year, it is essential for those graduates to be aware of the needs of those with autism, especially from an educational point of view, McMahon continued.
Dr Daniel Tindall, lecturer in physical education in UL and co-director of i-TEACH added that “The i-TEACH lab is conducting a range of research from assistive technology for communication; inclusive play; evaluating autism education programmes; exploring the transition to university for students with autism and improving teacher knowledge and awareness of the issues facing students with autism, “.
World Autism Awareness Day was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 but this was the first year UL took part. The day serves not only to highlight autism as a growing global health priority but also to celebrate and honour the unique talents and skills of people with autism.
The iTEACH lab will be hosting a research seminar on autism in June, which will be funded by The Irish Council (IRC). To learn more about the seminar or the i-TEACH lab, contact Dr Jennifer McMahon at Jennifer.email@example.com.