The University of Limerick community will be shining a bright light on autism awareness this Saturday April 2nd, joining a worldwide movement to mark World Autism Awareness Day by bringing blue light to buildings across the UL campus.
UL will join more than 100 countries, 1,000 cities and 8,000 landmarks across the globe including iconic buildings such as; the International Space Station; the Empire State Building in New York and many others.
April 2nd was officially adopted by the United Nations’ as World Autism Awareness Day in 2007 but this year will be the first year UL will be lighting up blue to highlight autism as a growing global health priority. On the day participants wear blue, iconic landmarks are lit up in blue light to spread awareness and understanding of autism and celebrate and honour the unique talents and skills of people with autism.
The UL event was instigated by Dr Jennifer McMahon, founder and co-director of the i-TEACH lab (Lab for Inclusive Teaching) and lecturer in the Psychology of Education at the UL.
"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. We have over 300 newly qualified teachers graduating from the Department of Education & Professional Studies every year so it’s essential that we bring attention to the needs of those with autism especially from an educational point of view" said Dr McMahon.
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, the i-TEACH lab does it all".
Rob Laffan, inventor of Tippytalk, a communication system that has been designed for children with autism, and collaborator with the i-TEACH lab, added that "Tippytalk is proud to light it up blue with our partner UL to promote awareness for autism".
On Monday April 4th, members of the i-TEACH group will wear blue and students involved in the lab will hold a bake sale in support of Redhill school for autism in Patrickswell, Co. Limerick.
The iTEACH lab will be hosting a research seminar on autism in June funded by The Irish Council (IRC). To learn more about the seminar or the i-TEACH lab, contact Dr Jennifer McMahon at Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org.