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MIC Teams up with AsIAm & SuperValu to Assist Autistic Students as They Return to the Classroom

An autistic child sits looking upwards while wearing noise cancelling headphones

An autism-friendly learning resource developed by Mary Immaculate College (MIC), in collaboration with AsIAm and SuperValu, has been re-issued to assist students with additional needs as they return to the classroom over the coming weeks. The ‘Bridge Back to School’ booklet was first launched in July 2020 and from today (19 February), the resource will be available for free in 223 SuperValu stores nationwide. The booklet will also be distributed to every primary school in the country.

The booklet aims to support families in re-establishing routines that may have been disrupted due to the closure of schools. It offers guidance on preparing students for the return to school and focuses on areas such as sensory integration, how to deal with worry and anxiety, ways in which to explain the “new normal”, social skills, self-regulation, the use of visuals, and the importance of clear communication.

Welcoming the re-issuing of ‘Bridge Back to School’, Professor Emer Ring, Dean of Education at MIC, said, “Every person around the country has experienced some obstacle to their routine due to the pandemic, however many do not consider how the changes that may seem minor to some, can pose serious stress to others in their community. The second closure of schools will have impacted autistic children and their families again and it's important that we support them through this time. This resource offers essential guidance for those who may experience particular challenges in transitioning back to school.”

She added, “We’re delighted that not only will the resource be available in SuperValu stores again but that it has also been sent to every primary school in Ireland, building on the long tradition at Mary Immaculate College of promoting research in education and supporting schools. Our work here at MIC continues to be enriched by schools all over the country through facilitating our research and supporting our students on placement. We are delighted to be able to reciprocate in a small way and hope that schools and teachers throughout the country will find this resource useful to their work.”

Professor Emer Ring also acknowledged the strong and committed team at MIC who were involved in the resource, which was collated by MIC PhD researcher, Maria Dervan. The resource also contains contributions from Dr Lisha O’Sullivan, Head of the Department of Reflective Pedagogy and Early Childhood Studies at MIC and Dr Margaret Egan, lecturer in the Department of Educational Psychology, Inclusive and Special Education, as well as Dr Niamh Moore, a recent graduate of the Professional Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology programme at MIC.  

For Maria Dervan, who is also a teacher at St. Michael’s Infant School in Limerick, the resource is “a valuable, inclusive, cross sectoral guide”. She said, “It is an evidence-based resource designed to provide students, teachers, SNAs and parents with information on strategies and supports to assist autistic students transition back to the classroom following school closure. The user-friendly booklet is packed with activities and useful information with additional support material available free on the AsIAm website.”

According to Adam Harris, CEO of AsIAm, “Not only have the changes in routine and lack of support been a challenge for autistic students but re-establishing routine will be just as challenging. The ‘Bridge Back to School’ resource can support teachers, SNAs and family members to help understand, prepare and manage the return to school for young people.”

Further information on the ‘Bridge Back to School’ learning resource can be found here.

Bridge Back to School
Bridge Back to School
An Autism Friendly Learning Resource for 2021