23 May 2022

Portlaoise should be Autism Friendly Town says councillor

Portlaoise should be Autism Friendly Town says councillor


The capital town of Laois should be made an Autism Friendly Town, a Portlaoise councillor has said.

Portlaoise could be the second town to achieve the official status, following the example of Clonakility in Cork, Cllr Noel Tuohy suggests.

"Clonakilty has Autism friendly stickers in shops and businesses. I believe that Laois County Council have a role to make it happen in Portlaoise. AsIAm would assist to put it in place," he said.

"One in 65 people, 1.5% of students have a diagnosis of Autism. It has risen sharply. We should do all in our power to facilitate them. You are talking about kids but also about families who live with the problems that some of these kids have. 

"Businesses could train up one worker to deal with Autism customer in a shop. We judge a society by how they treat their most vulnerable. This is one way we can help. This is what communities are all about," Cllr Tuohy added.

He tabled a motion to the April meeting of the Portlaoise Municipal District asking the council to "consider assisting and showing leadership in Portlaoise becoming an Autism Friendly Town".

The Town Manager Simon Walton explained how it would work in real terms. 

"Clonakilty have an Autism Friendly Town plan adopted. Individual businesses apply for accreditation. The plan sets out compliance issues. We'd be happy to engage with the Laois Chamber to roll out a similar plan here," he said.

The council's Business Supports Unit has agreed to look into the project.

"We will liaise with the Laois Chamber to see if this is a project they would be interested in pursuing in Portlaoise," officer Denise Rainey said in written answer to the motion.

"I welcome that as a starting point," Cllr Tuohy said. 

Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley seconded his motion.

"There is a huge number of families impacted by Autism on a daily basis. It would be great if we could lead on this," she said.

Cllr Barry Walsh agrees.

“A lot of people are impacted, this is a motion worth supporting,” he said.

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