08 Dec 2021

Providing a place for everyone at Narnia in Mercy Ballymahon

Pumpkin carving

Pumpkin carving are just one of a number of activities that take place in Narnia at Mercy Secondary School, Ballymahon

Mercy Secondary School Ballymahon is a very inclusive school and, four years ago, introduced a special inclusive class for its students with autism.

Aisling Festival reporters Rachel Maguire and Abbey Corrigan spoke to some of the students in the class about Narnia and how it supports the school's students.

What is Narnia?

Narnia is a special inclusive class for students with Autism. It supports their learning in the mainstream setting.

Why is it called Narnia?

One of our teachers, Mrs Daly, came up with the name because the door looks like every other in the school from the outside but, when you walk through the door, you enter a completely different world.

How long has Narnia been open?

Narnia has been open for four years, since 2015

How many students and staff are in Narnia?

There are six students, eight teachers and two SNAs in Narnia.

What makes Narnia special?

Narnia is special because it’s a place for students with Autism to take a break from the busyness of mainstream school life.

Roughly how many mainstream classes do you attend each week? Do you enjoy them?

It depends on the individual, but each student roughly attends 25 to 35 mainstream classes a week out of 42. Yes, we love mainstream classes

What do you find difficult about school?

Being overwhelmed and feeling anxious at certain times when life gets too busy.

What coping strategies do you have?

We use many strategies for example; walking outside, using sensory toys (fidget cubes, etc), music and computers.

Do you have a good support system around you?

Yes we do, we have a lot of support in school, at home and from the Phoenix Centre in Longford.

Do you find it hard to communicate with mainstream students?

At times we do because they can be judgmental or stereotypical about Autism.

How have you benefitted from being in Narnia?

Without Narnia, many of us would not be able to survive school life.

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

We have many hobbies and interests for example; painting, watching Netflix, comedy and dogs.

What people with autism inspire you?

Many people with Autism inspire us like Anne Hegarty, Albert Einstein and Greta Thunberg.

Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

Many of us have ambitions for the future such as getting a degree in our desired jobs.

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