Pictured are Reilly and Ellie, ambassadors dogs for Irish Guide Dogs.
Tayto Park, Ireland’s only theme park and zoo, is holding an Autism Awareness Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, October 5 and 6 to support and raise awareness for autism in Ireland.
Teaming up with AsIAm, Ireland’s national autism charity and advocacy organisation and Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, Tayto Park will be creating an autism friendly environment with the intention of allowing parents of children with autism and their families enjoy all the facilities and attractions available at Tayto Park across the weekend.
Small changes at Tayto Park will include no music being played throughout the park, no hand dryers will be turned on for the duration of the day and queues for the attractions will be kept to a minimum during this time. For families who require some peace and quiet, Tayto Park has partnered up with Adam and Friends, who specialise in designing and installing bespoke multi-sensory and soft play rooms who will provide a quiet room on site which will be silent and peaceful on the day.
In preparation for this special day, Tayto Park has created social stories (a visual guide describing the various social interactions, situations, behaviours and skills that they may encounter on the day) which will detail all attractions open on the day and help children with autism break down each social situation into steps that can be fully understood. Further information is available here.
Speaking on the partnership Chairman of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, Patrick Burke said, "Through our work providing Assistance Dogs to families of children with autism, we are acutely aware of their desire to enjoy greater freedom and mobility. Events like Tayto Park's Autism Weekend go some way to helping to achieve this goal and as one of Tayto Park's Charities of the Year we are especially delighted to be involved."
Adam Harris, Founder-CEO of AsIAm said "We warmly welcome Tayto Park's Autism Weekend and commitment to developing autism-friendly practise. Autistic people, and our families, want to be able to enjoy the same leisure and recreational activities as other families but this can be a significant accessibility challenge. Small changes can make a big difference in creating inclusive opportunities for our community and we warmly welcome Tayto Park's leadership and example in this regard".
Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind's staff, along with AS I AM volunteers, will be on hand over the weekend to provide information to visitors on the various ways the organisations can be supported.