First Publicly Funded Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Programme in Ireland to aid non-speaking youth

AsIAm, Ireland’s Autism Charity, along with Minister for State for Disability at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Anne Rabbitte, have announced significant new funding for a first-of-its-kind Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Support Programme in Ireland.

AsIAm receives €1M Project Funding from Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. 1
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The funding has been provided by the HSE and was announced at an event today in Athenry, Co Galway.

The programme will provide AAC devices to young people with communication differences.

These devices will support up to 550 Autistic people to access a communication system which meet their needs.

The programme, which has been funded through a €1 million grant from HSE capital funding, will provide devices through AsIAm.

Recipients will include Autistic children and young people who are already receiving support from a Speech & Language Therapist (SLT) as well as Autistic people who currently do not have access to speech and language therapy support.

AsIAm receives €1M Project Funding from Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. 3
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Both groups will be able to apply for a device as well as training and guidance for family members and educational professionals supporting the individual. In total, the programme will support up to 550 people and families in its first year, with the aim to expand thereafter.

AAC includes all forms of communication which a person may use other than talking. It may add to someone’s speech or may be an alternative to speaking.

The AAC Support Programme will use high-tech solutions including apps for use on tablets and phones which support Autistic people who may not speak to communicate or who may have not yet developed speech.

The devices provide a means for a person to communicate through formalised systems of symbols and visuals.

There are a huge range of devices and apps available on the market.

Providing opportunities to sample the systems available to help find the right system for the individual is critical in helping a person to have their voice heard.

AsIAm receives €1M Project Funding from Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. 5
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Adam Harris, CEO of AsIAm said:

Accessing a communication system which enables a person to be understood can be key in supporting a person to access school or employment, engage with family and friends and express will and preferences in day to day life.

For too long, many children and families have faced barriers not only to accessing an AAC device which meets their needs but also the required professional support and guidance to learn to use the equipment and systems. Ireland lacks a clear pathway for Autistic people who may benefit from AAC.

AsIAm receives €1M Project Funding from Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. 7
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and he continued:

Today’s announcement is an important step in the right direction, supporting our vision for an Ireland where every Autistic person is accepted ‘as they are’ and enjoys the same chance in Irish life.

AsIAm is grateful to Minister Rabbitte for championing this initiative.

It is an essential initiative to be rolling out in our 10th anniversary year.

A device procurement and recruitment process will now commence and AsIAm will keep the community informed as the programme opens for applications.

AsIAm receives €1M Project Funding from Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. 9
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Minister Rabbitte said:

I am delighted to announce such significant public funding for this project.

It is the first publicly funded project of its kind in Ireland and underscores the Government’s commitment to inclusion.

Communication is a cornerstone of development for all children and this programme will help many to communicate better in way that suits their needs, which underscores the very essence of inclusion.

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