50 Years in the Making - President Higgins Returns to Alma Mater to Launch Autism Centre

Friday, 24 February 2012

50 Years in the Making: President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins made his first official visit to NUI Galway today, to launch the University’s new Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research (ICAN). The visit takes place 50 years after President Higgins was initially enrolled as a mature student at the University and he was welcomed by President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, NUI Galway’s Dr Geraldine Leader, Director of ICAN and Tom Joyce, Galway University Foundation.  Through scientific research, education and services to the community, ICAN is dedicated to ensuring improvements for individuals with autism and their families.
50 Years in the Making: President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins made his first official visit to NUI Galway today, to launch the University’s new Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research (ICAN). The visit takes place 50 years after President Higgins was initially enrolled as a mature student at the University and he was welcomed by President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, NUI Galway’s Dr Geraldine Leader, Director of ICAN and Tom Joyce, Galway University Foundation. Through scientific research, education and services to the community, ICAN is dedicated to ensuring improvements for individuals with autism and their families.

The Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research at NUI Galway to be launched by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, 50 years after he enrolled as a mature student

President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins will make his first official visit to NUI Galway to launch its new Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research on Friday, 24 February, 2012. The visit takes place 50 years after he was initially enrolled as a mature student at the University.

The Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research (ICAN) is dedicated to ensuring improvements for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families not only through scientific research but also through education and providing services to the community.

Co-funded by Galway University Foundation, the Centre is the first centre of its kind outside North America that uses an integrated approach to the delivery of postgraduate education, research and the delivery of autism support services. NUI Galway’s Dr Geraldine Leader is the Director of ICAN: “A diagnosis of autism can have a devastating effect on a family. The lack of autism services in Ireland places an enormous burden on parents. Yet parents and families are the true advocates for those diagnosed. Our Centre aims to support families by training highly-skilled practitioners in the management and care of persons with ASD, conduct research that will provide practical solutions for parents and by providing support services for families.”

Dr Leader added: “Neurological disorders such as autism affect individuals and their families across the life span. Our centre aims to target many of these challenges by conducting research into social and communicative deficits, adaptive behaviour needs, restricted interests and repetitive/challenging behaviours.”

Autism is a complex disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate, form friendships and relate to the outside world.  It is characterised by restrictive and sometimes repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests and activities.  It may also be accompanied by behaviour problems. 

The prevalence of autism is on the rise.  In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 110 children will be diagnosed with autism.  Among boys the incidence is 1 in 70.  Although there are no comparable studies on autism in Ireland, it is believed the prevalence is similar to that found in the US. 

Ita Fitzgibbon, is the parent of a 12 year old son with autism and Chairperson of Abalta Special School Galway, said: “Abalta has a very strong relationship with the MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis in NUI Galway, providing placements to many students on the programme, each year. Our school has seen the benefits of receiving the very best expertise first hand and the impact it has had on the lives of our students and their families. There is a lack of understanding of autism in Ireland and it is only through research that we can hope to generate a greater awareness of this condition. The opening of ICAN at NUI Galway will bring leading international experts together to use their knowledge, insight and research to enhance the lives of those affected and touched by autism in Ireland. This centre will help those diagnosed with autism in Ireland to reach their potential and achieve their goals.”

ICAN offers both an MSc and PhD programme in Applied Behaviour Analysis at NUI Galway. These programmes are preparing students to become highly skilled practitioners in the care and management of ASD and related neurodevelopmental conditions.  Students are making an important contribution to services as they are placed in either Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention programmes that are home and school based, ASD Units within mainstream schools, special schools and adults services. Neurological disorders such as Autism affect individuals and their families across the life span.  Our centre aims to target many of these challenges by conducting research into social and communicative deficits, adaptive behaviour needs, restricted interests and repetitive/challenging behaviours.

A major international conference recently hosted by NUI Galway, Autism Speaks and the American Ireland Fund, highlighted new technologies and practical strategies for managing challenges faced in schools for helping children on the autism spectrum. Key international experts in the field discussed treatment of associated medical conditions and presented the latest research on early signs of autism and the use of medication for people on the autism spectrum.

President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said the establishment of this new centre highlights NUI Galway’s commitment to autism research and underscores the translational dimension of the University’s work.  

He said, “This Centre will be a landmark for those concerned with ASD.  Students will benefit from research-led teaching at a centre which is affiliated with the best international centres in this field.  The Centre’s outreach programme will ensure that the latest research and educational strategies will reach those families living with ASD. I believe that the launch of this Centre by President Higgins will be an important landmark for families affected by autism.”

 

ENDS

For further information visit www.nuigalway.ie/ican


50 bliain ag teacht – Filleann an tUachtarán Ó hUiginn chuig a Alma Mater chun Ionad Uathachais a sheoladh

Seolfaidh Uachtarán na hÉireann, Micheál D. Ó hUiginn an tIonad Éireannach um Thaighde ar Uathachas agus ar Néar-Fhorbraíocht in OÉ Gaillimh, 50 bliain i ndiaidh dó féin clárú mar mhac léinn lánfhásta.

Tabharfaidh Uachtarán na hÉireann, Micheál D. Ó hUiginn, a chéad chuairt oifigiúil ar OÉ Gaillimh chun an tIonad nua Éireannach um Thaighde ar Uathachas agus ar Néar-Fhorbraíocht a sheoladh Dé hAoine, an 24 Feabhra 2012. Tagann an chuairt seo 50 bliain i ndiaidh dó féin clárú den chéad uair mar mhac léinn lánfhásta san Ollscoil.

Tá an tIonad nua Éireannach um Thaighde ar Uathachas agus ar Néar-Fhorbraíocht (ICAN) tiomanta feabhsúcháin a chinntiú do dhaoine aonair a bhfuil neamhord ar speictream an uathachais (ASD) ag gabháil dóibh agus cúnamh a thabhairt dá dteaghlaigh. Déanfar é seo ní hamháin trí thaighde eolaíoch ach trí oideachas agus trí sheirbhísí sa phobal a chur ar fáil.

Tá an tIonad á chómhaoiniú ag Fondúireacht na hOllscoile, agus is é an chéad ionad dá leithéid é taobh amuigh de Mheiriceá Thuaidh a úsáideann cur chuige comhtháite maidir le hoideachas iarchéime, taighde agus seirbhísí tacaíochta uathachais a sholáthar.  Deir an Dr Geraldine Leader, comhalta foirne in OÉ Gaillimh agus Stiúrthóir ICAN:  “Nuair a fhaigheann teaghlach amach go bhfuil uathachas ag gabháil do dhuine acu is féidir leis tionchar uafásach a bheith aige orthu. Cuireann an easpa seirbhísí uathachais atá ar fáil in Éirinn ualach mór millteach ar thuismitheoirí. Ach is tuismitheoirí agus teaghlaigh a sheasann an fód dóibh siúd le huathachas. Tá sé mar aidhm ag an Ionad seo tacú le teaghlaigh trí oiliúint a chur ar chleachtóirí a bhfuil ardscileanna acu maidir le daoine le ASD a bhainistiú agus aire a thabhairt dóibh. Tabharfar tacaíocht do theaghlaigh freisin trí thaighde a dhéanamh a thabharfaidh freagraí praiticiúla do thuismitheoirí agus trí sheirbhísí tacaíochta a chur ar fáil do theaghlaigh.”

Chomh maith leis sin dúirt an Dr Leader: “Bíonn tionchar ag neamhoird néareolaíocha cosúil le huathachas ar dhaoine aonair agus ar a dteaghlaigh i rith a saoil. Tá sé mar aidhm ag an ionad seo díriú ar go leor de na dúshláin seo trí thaighde a dhéanamh ar easnaimh shóisialta agus chumarsáide, riachtanais iompraíochta oiriúnaitheacha, leasanna srianta agus iompraíochtaí athchleachtacha/dúshlánacha.”

Is neamhord casta é an t-uathachas a chuireann bac ar chumas duine cumarsáid a dhéanamh, cairde a dhéanamh agus tuiscint a bheith aige ar an domhan mórthimpeall. Bíonn pátrúin shrianta agus uaireanta athchleachtacha iompraíochta, leasanna agus gníomhaíochtaí i gceist le huathachas. Is féidir go mbeadh fadhbanna iompraíochta i gceist chomh maith.

Tá forleithne uathachais ag méadú. Sna Stáit Aontaithe, measann na hIonaid um Ghalar a Rialú go mbeidh páiste amháin as gach 110 páiste diagnóisithe le huathachas. I measc buachaillí, is buachaill amháin as gach 70 buachaill a bheidh diagnóisithe le huathachas. Cé nach bhfuil aon staidéar comparáideach ar uathachas in Éirinn, creidtear go mbeidh na figiúirí mórán mar a chéile is atá sna Stáit Aontaithe.

Dúirt Ita Fitzgibbon, a bhfuil mac 12 bhliain d’aois aici a bhfuil uathachas ag gabháil dó agus atá ina Cathaoirleach ar Scoil Speisialta Ábalta, Gaillimh: “Tá caidreamh thar a bheith láidir ag Ábalta leis an gclár MSc in Anailís Iompraíochta Fheidhmeach in OÉ Gaillimh, agus tagann mic léinn ar shocrúchán oibre chugainn gach bliain. Feiceann scoil sin againne na buntáistí a bhaineann leis an saineolas is fearr a fháil ar an láthair agus an tionchar a bhíonn aige sin ar ár scoláirí agus a dteaghlaigh. Tá easpa tuisceana ar an uathachas in Éirinn agus caithfear taighde a dhéanamh ionas go mbeidh feasacht níos leithne ag daoine. Le hoscailt ICAN in OÉ Gaillimh tabharfar saineolaithe idirnáisiúnta le chéile chun a n-eolas, a léargas agus a dtaighde a úsáid chun feabhas a chur ar an saol dóibh siúd a bhfuil uathachas ag gabháil dóibh in Éirinn. Cabhróidh an tIonad seo leo siúd a bhfuil uathachas ag gabháil dóibh in Éirinn a bpoitéinseal agus a spriocanna a bhaint amach.”

Cuireann ICAN clár MSc agus clár PhD in Anailís Iompraíochta Fheidhmeach ar fáil in OÉ Gaillimh. Tá na cláir seo ag cur oiliúna ar mhic léinn go mbeidh siad ina gcleachtóirí ardoilte i gcúram agus i mbainistiú ASD agus riochtaí néarfhorbartha lena mbaineann.  Tá mic léinn ag cur go mór le seirbhísí mar go mbíonn siad ag obair ar chláir Luathdhian-Idirghabhála Iompraíochta atá bunaithe sa bhaile nó sa scoil, nó in Ionaid ASD laistigh de scoileanna príomhshrutha, scoileanna speisialta agus seirbhísí d’aosaigh. Bíonn tionchar ag neamhoird néareolaíocha cosúil le huathachas ar dhaoine aonair agus ar a dteaghlaigh i rith a saoil.  Tá sé mar aidhm ag an ionad seo díriú ar go leor de na dúshláin seo trí thaighde a dhéanamh ar easnaimh shóisialta agus chumarsáide, riachtanais iompraíochta oiriúnaitheacha, leasanna srianta agus iompraíochtaí athchleachtacha/dúshlánacha.

Ag oll-chomhdháil a chuir OÉ Gaillimh, Autism Speaks agus an American Ireland Fund i láthair le déanaí, tarraingíodh aird ar theicneolaíochtaí nua agus ar straitéisí praiticiúla chun aghaidh a thabhairt ar na dúshláin a bhíonn i scoileanna chun cabhrú le páistí ar speictream an uathachais. Labhair príomh-shaineolaithe idirnáisiúnta sa réimse faoin gcóireáil a úsáidtear do riochtaí cosúla leighis agus chuir siad an taighde is déanaí i láthair maidir le luathchomharthaí uathachais agus úsáid chógais ar speictream an uathachais.

Dúirt Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne, go léiríonn bunú an ionaid nua seo tiomantas OÉ Gaillimh do thaighde ar uathachas agus leagann sé béim ar an ngné aistritheach d’obair na hOllscoile.  

Dúirt sé, “Is áit cheannródaíoch a bheidh san Ionad seo do dhaoine a mbaineann ASD leo.    Gheobhaidh mic léinn buntáiste as an teagasc taighde-bhunaithe san ionad a bhfuil baint aige leis na hionaid idirnáisiúnta is fearr sa réimse seo.  Cinnteoidh clár for-rochtana an Ionaid go mbeidh an taighde agus na straitéisí oideachasúla is déanaí ar fáil do theaghlaigh atá ag maireachtáil le ASD. Creidim gur ócáid cheannródaíoch a bheidh sa seoladh seo a dhéanfaidh an tUachtarán Ó hUiginn ar an Ionad seo do theaghlaigh a mbaineann ASD leo.”

 

CRÍOCH


Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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