Leo Cullen was on hand in Dublin at the Aviva Stadium as Aviva announced a new initiative giving away 1,000 back-to-school packs to autistic children throughout Ireland.
The project is part of its partnership with AsIAm, Ireland’s national autism charity and advocacy organisation. The packs are specially designed to keep children stimulated and active in line with their sensory needs and act as a lifeline for parents, who have been homeschooling since March.
It is in line with the special sensory room which the company unveiled at the Aviva Stadium at the beginning of the year and which we can only hope will be available to children with sensory needs when things get back to normal.
Since the onset of Covid-19 and closure of schools, children with sensory needs and autism have missed their daily school routines which is so important for their wellbeing.
There has also been a bigger issue, in that children with additional needs have not had the ongoing support and attention they usually receive at school.
To help with their transition back into the classroom, each Friday for the month of August, Aviva will, alongside experts from AsIAm, release an online article geared towards helping them prepare for their return.
In Ireland, as many as one in 20 people have sensory issues such as ADHD, dyspraxia and SPD, while one in 50 have been diagnosed with autism. As autism is a spectrum, it means that no two people diagnosed will have the same experiences. One person may appear fairly able and only feel anxious when their routine is disrupted, while another may seriously struggle with day-to-day interactions and need full-time care.
The Aviva back-to-school packs and weekly online content is aimed at supporting parents by providing the tools and information they need to keep their autistic children active while also preparing them for their return to school.
“It has been an extremely disruptive year for everyone and I see first-hand with my own children how this change can have such an impact,” said Cullen speaking about his own family experience.
“The back-to-school packs and online content series will be a huge support in preparing autistic children for the return to school.”
“We at Leinster talk all the time about ‘setting the players up to succeed’ and it’s crucial we take that same message for parents and their children as they look to return to the classroom. It’s the small steps and plans we put in place which can make such a huge difference.”
“It has been an incredibly difficult year, especially for those families who have not been getting the usual support they need,” added Brian O’Neill, Head of Communications, CSR and Sponsorship at Aviva.
“By releasing our online content series throughout August, it will hopefully enable everyone to have free access to specially designed resources to help support autistic children and their families with their transition back into school.”
The content series will focus on different area of sensory needs which can be worked on or developed over the summer months and will be important for the return to school. There will also be recommendations on how you can make homemade kits for children so everyone across the country is able to be engage with the content.
The 1,000 back-to-school packs will be delivered across the nation including to Aviva’s two regional charity partners, Shine Centre for Autism in Cork and Temple Street Children’s hospital in Dublin. The sensory content series and 1,000 packs follows on from the launch of the Aviva sensory hub in Aviva Stadium in January and its continued commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity across all areas of its business, including its sponsorships.