The MWB Autism Support group on a kayaking trip in the summer of 2016. The trip was enjoyed by everyone involved, and MWB Autism Support have organised plenty more enjoyable trips since.
Midlands West and Border (MWB) Autism Support is a Longford-based parent-led and parent-run programme to help people in the BMW area with family members with Autistic Spectrum Disorders.
The group was founded in 2008 and provides services as well as support to its members, covering Longford, Roscommon, Leitrim and Westmeath.
A look back at 2017 will give a flavour of what MWB has to offer families who have found themselves with a newly-diagnosed or not so newly-diagnosed family member on the autistic spectrum.
Starting in January 2017, we had a trip to the cinema and the year progressed on to soft play/bowling in Longford Megabowl.
We were privileged to have Adam Harris come and give a talk and answer questions from the inside perspective of life with autism. He was a very inspiring and encouraging young man with a positive message, giving hope to us all.
We promoted the message of awareness, but more importantly, understanding of autism in April.
We had Middletown Centre for Autism come in May to give us a talk on anxiety, which is a major issue associated with autism and tips in methods to deal with that were shared.
In June, one of our members, Deasun Kelly, a student in Drumlish National School, ran a Blue Fun Day in conjunction with local band, Brave Giant, to promote awareness of autism within schools.
The year continued with soft play/bowling in Roscommon town.
Our big annual trip was to the Viking Splash in Dublin and Jump Zone in Santry. Outdoor events also included orienteering, as well as kayaking in Rooskey and horse-riding in Drumshanbo.
We have regular drama/play therapy classes in Newtownforbes and regular trips to the Mall in Longford for swimming.
Sensory issues are a big part of autism, so trips to ‘Sensory Me’ in Roscommon were a great opportunity for both children and parents to relax.
We ended the year with a Christmas party - with star guest, Santa, of course.
Support for parents is a critical part of what we do, because you can’t pour from an empty cup, so we have support meetings once a month in the morning and evenings for the parents.
MWB would like to take this opportunity to thank all our supporters who have been there to support us with our fundraising events, without which none of what we do would be possible.
MWB autism support has its symbol, the oak tree, with all its little acorns, which represent children with autism who, with the right nourishment and care, can grow into mighty oak trees and follow in the footsteps of others on the spectrum, like Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Eddison.
We must never forget that autism has many blessings as well as many challenges. Our motto is ‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’ (‘Together we grow in strength’). For more information, please contact by phone, Michael Bryson (0879877342) or Siobhán Kelly (0961077897), or see the website at www.mwbautism.ie or MWB Autism Support on Facebook.