A local graduation ceremony was held recently in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Letterkenny for students who completed an Autism studies course through University College Cork (UCC).
24 students from Donegal completed the Certificate in Autism Spectrum studies NFQ Level 6 at UCC. The students were made up from HSE staff and Education staff working in the autism sector and parents of children with autism spectrum disorders in Donegal.
The course modules consisted of Autism in a Historical and Contemporary context, Policy and Practice, Autism Mental Health and Wellbeing, Strengths and Challenges of Autism and Interventions and Supports across the Lifespan.
Bernadette Galligan, a parent who completed the course, said while she had personal experience of dealing with her child with autism, she now has “a greater insight into how they experience the world and feel better equipped in dealing with it. I had not studied for a long long time and now I feel I could impart my knowledge to others comfortably.”
Joanne Dowds, HSE Social Care Worker, said the course augmented the knowledge she has in the area and given her a broader perspective on dealing with people with autism and their families.
Mary Harte, who organised the course and asked UCC to Donegal, said they decided to host a local graduation ceremony in conjunction with UCC in recognition of their individual achievements in obtaining the certificates.
“I am delighted to wholeheartedly congratulate everyone here today. This course provided an excellent opportunity to both parents and to staff from the HSE and the education sector to train together and to enhance their skills and knowledge base in the field of autism studies,” she said.
Dr Seamus O Tuama Director Adult Education UCC, who presented the awards said that “Adult Continuing Education in UCC has been delivering programmes to communities across Ireland for 70 years now. Our mission is to provide educational opportunities for communities and groups, breaking down barriers and ensuring a positive educational experience. We are fully committed to County Donegal and hope to see many more programmes delivered in the area.”
Siobhan Murray Course Coordinator for Donegal speaking at the ceremony said: “It is our aim, as a result of the success of last year’s programme that this course will run again in September as a two-year part time Diploma in Autism Studies.
“We are also proposing to run a one-year part time 'Certificate in Mental Health and the Community. Both these programmes are now open for enrolment. We have a number of other Certificate/ Diploma Programmes also available. This is a wonderful opportunity to upskill while also gaining a University qualification in Donegal.”
Some of the students who completed the Certificate in Autism Studies, Front row: lecturers on the course, Dr. Seamus O' Tuama, Director & Cliodhna O' Callaghan, Education Officer ACE at UCC. Photo Clive Wasson
Special Needs Assistants from Errigal College. Photo Clive Wasson