July 2011


Our trip to West Cork Equine Centre in Bandon was held Friday 29th July. It was apparent as parents and children arrived that there was some trepidation about how this event would go…. nervous mums and dads watched as the children were  donned with riding hats and pony’s and led in to the indoor sand arena.  Shocked faces exchanged glances as every child mounted their steed ready for their ride.  The hour session consisted of the children learning to walk their pony’s around and then over and around poles , they were shown how to start and stop their animal hold their reigns and steer their pony .

Before long most of the children were trotting, many even mastering the ‘rising ‘trot as they learnt to stand in the stirrups, they all seemed delighted by their progress, and regular calls of ‘giddy up horsey ‘ were  heard shouted  across the arena by enthusiastic riders . A ride outside was taken, before being shown how to dismount and lead their pony’s back to the stable.

Being honest I was shocked how each child took this activity completely in their stride, enjoying the company of their new equine friends.  Happy faces were seen throughout and every child appeared delighted to have learnt some new skills and tried something new.

A huge thank you must go to Grace, at West Cork Equine centre who really gave the children a real taste of horse riding and who inspired confidence in our children today.  Thank you too to all the ‘leaders ‘who were all so helpful. Last, but not least of course I must thank the parents who brought their children to this event, it really was a huge feat persuading some of these children to even  turn up , so a special thank you to you all parents and children who made this event such a big success.


Poor left - right synchronization betwwen left and right hemispheres in autistic brain (below) compared with control brain (above)
Copyright © Dr L Dinstein

An interesting report has been published in the Neuron journal that may indicate a means to accurately diagnose autism in very young toddlers.

The technique involves measuring the synchronization in electrical activity between the left and right hemispheres of the brain while the child is asleep. In children with delayed language development or a-typical development they found poor synchronization in the electrical activity between the left and right hemispheres. This was not evident in children with normal development nor in children with a language delay not associated with autism.

Imagine an orchestra were ready to play a piece of classical music and one half started a fraction of a second after the other half. What you’d end up with was a noise from which you could occasionally catch part of the melody. This could be similar to what’s happening in an autistic child’s (or adult’s) brain.

The Weizmann Institute reports that the researchers were able to diagnose 70% of autistic children aged 1 – 3 years old.  This could form the basis of an empirical diagnosis of autism from a much earlier age than is currently possible.


There’s a new autism related group being formed in West Cork who are planning a major project in the area. Please try to get to one of these meetings if you can:

We are a newly formed group Cork South West Association for Autism based in West Cork & catering for Adults & the future needs of Children within the Autistic Spectrum. We are holding a very important meeting on Tuesday 30th August @ 8pm in the meeting room in Rosie’s pub Ballydehob.

Anyone with an interest in or family member with Autism would be advised to attend this meeting as we are planning a major project that will benefit the future of our children & adults.

Further information contact Noel Camier 087/2258836, Noeleen Murphy 086/3254214 or Leslie Swanton 086/1632181.

Cork South West Association for Autism are holding a very important meeting in West Cork Hotel on Thursday 1st September @ 11:30am with Joe McDonald CEO of Cork Autism Association, Philip Jordan, Chairperson, Cork Autism Association & Maurice Walsh, CEO Co-action West Cork.

Anyone with an interest in or family member with Autism would be advised to attend this meeting as we are planning a major project that will benefit the future of our children & adults.

Further information contact Noel Camier 087/2258836, Noeleen Murphy 086/3254214 or Leslie Swanton 086/1632181.


This is simply lovely:

Your Autistic Child – and what we don’t talk about

it says so much.


On the 22nd June 2011 Paula O’Leary and Karen O’Sullivan from Autism West Cork (AWC) met with Maurice Walsh (CEO Co- Action) and Mary O’Donovan (financial controller) to discuss issues that arose at Co-Action’s AGM and concerns from parents about services provided to their children.

The meeting was extremely productive, we have outlined the topics that were dealt with that day.

Funding from the HSE

Co- Action has provided care to children with asd for 3 years, at the time they were allocated enough funding for 30 children to provide 2 ½  days of a  multidisciplinary team.

There are now 86 children with ASD and 40 waiting diagnosis. Co-Action requested more funding two years ago, this request was denied.

It was discussed  how these growing numbers are impacting front line children’s services and we were informed that  Co-Action have in recent months used services allocated for  ID (intellectual disabilities), specifically speech and language therapy and psychology services  for children with ASD to help with the work load.  They are aware that a huge amount of time is taken up with assessments.

Co-Action agreed to our request for support to lobby the HSE for more funding and have provided us with contacts to enable us to pursue this.

The subject of ‘changes’ throughout disability services that Mary Bickley discussed at the AWC summer meeting  were examined and  it has been confirmed that  this is expected to take place within the next year.

The changes that are expected, in theory, should benefit all children with ASD.  The government have decided to amalgamate the three areas that currently exist as separate entities (ASD, ID and physical & Sensory).  The new proposal will see funding for all three areas put together and divided equally. Our children’s care will no longer solely be given by Co-Action, but by the HSE too.  A consultation form will be sent to parents, with further information and to give feedback.

Co-Action has identified West Cork as the pilot programme for this new proposal. (LIL) local integration group meet regularly to discuss the initiative, Co-Action have a seat on the forum so as to be kept informed of developments.

This new approach to services will impact Co-Action as funding for  ID will be diluted, Co-Action are lobbying for ALL disabilities  to be given the same funding without reducing funds given at this time.

Continue reading


The Surf2Heal camp for West Cork was again held at Inchydonney this year during the first week of July. Many thanks are again due to Patricia Griffin at Co-Action for organizing the event and to all the volunteers for their time and effort spent both in and out of the water.

Celebrations at Surf2Heal 2011
Celebrations at Surf2Heal 2011

The week was rounded off nicely with an after camp party and awards ceremony for the children.


Saturday, 16th July, saw our first children’s event of the summer, a trip to the cinema.

Autism West Cork hired the entire Park Cinema in Clonakilty for the sole use of our members and were able to show a selection of films to suit all tastes:

  • Kung Fu Panda II
  • Diary Of A Wimp Kid II
  • Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows II

In total we had 37 attendees (including parents/assistants) and people agreed it was a lovely relaxed atmosphere without the usual crowds and queues to be found at a cinema. Personally I was delighted to get to see the Harry Potter movie with less than 10 other people at the screening!

Many thanks must go to Dan O’Callaghan, the manager at the Park, and all his staff for opening the cinema early for us and being so accommodating.


Autism West Cork LogoWelcome to the new look site for Autism West Cork.

Having revamped our logo we decided to revamp the website as well. This will give us a greater opportunity to post more information about what we’re doing in West Cork.

We hope you like the new site, do let us have your feedback and comments.