Sandymount Village Dublin - Neurodiversity Sandymount

What is Neurodiversity Ireland?

 

Welcome to Neurodiversity Ireland (NI). We are a community group made up of the parents of neurodivergent children. We originally come together to build Sandymount into a neurodiverse-friendly village that welcomes and celebrates different brains and unique thinkers! However, due to the amazing response in our community and the interest in our movement from other communities across Ireland we have expanded our scope to also launch the umbrella Neurodiversity Ireland, with the vision of establish Irish communities as leaders in creating neurodiverse-friendly places, that welcome and celebrate different brains and unique thinkers. NI will focus on 4 main areas:

Strategic Focus Areas:

  1. Establish Sandymount as our flagship Neurodiverse friendly communittee, driving education, awareness and inclusivity for Neurodivergent individuals

  2. Launch Neurodiversity Ireland, which will be a country wide rollout initiative. We will encourage and support the development of Neurodiverse-friendly communities across Ireland

  3. Support Neurodivergent people & their families, by working within their local communities, schools & sports clubs to implement neurodiverse inclusives policies.

  4. Fundraising: Create the Neurodiversity Ireland Sensory centre that will provide the facilities and services greatly needed for Speech & language therapy, Sensory processing & Occupational Therapy for Neurodivergent children.

We’re delighted to have partnered with AsIAm, Ireland’s national autism charity, to help create a truly neurodiversity-friendly communities across Ireland. Now we need your help too!

We have created a symbol that can be worn as a lanyard by neurodivergent children to signal to others that a little extra compassion and understanding might be needed in certain situations. You will see our NI symbol on our wristbands and business stickers that are being displayed by family, friends and local businesses to show support for neurodiversity inclusivity.

Our NI group are passionate about making our communities places where neurodivergent people can feel supported and included. We are continuously learning how we can improve the support we give parents and our kids everyday, it is a learning process. We want everyone in the community to feel this is a safe space to ask questions and learn, we are not all always going to get this right but we can support each other on this journey.

We have set up a GoFundMe page to help launch Neurodiversity Ireland. The donations will help us raise awareness and make a huge difference to all our kids’ lives.

 

Neurodiversity Ireland Board

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Dairine Kennedy

Director of Neurodiversity Ireland

Dairine works in Google for over 12 years and is the Head of Intelligent Partner Growth, Online Partnerships Group at Google.  She is passionate about making our community one that is full of equal opportunity and is inclusive for all. Dairine is a Neurodivergent person herself and is the parent of an autistic girl.

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Nessa Hill

Co-chair of Neurodiversity Ireland

She is a barrister for 16 years, practicing throughout Ireland, in civil litigation, employment, land and licensing law. Graduated from Law in Trinity College Dublin in 2004 and studied at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies in Belfast.  Nessa lives in Irishtown with husband Thomas and their 2 daughters, one of whom is autistic and ADHD.  As a result of severe lack of services and school places, Nessa decided to join forces with other local parents to try to build a more inclusive community for all children, through inclusive social and cultural opportunities and to source therapies, such as Sensory Processing therapy, for children with additional needs to become fully integrated members of society.

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Thomas Hill

Treasurer of Neurodiversity Ireland

He is also Head of Investments Implementation at AIG, is a Reporting and Business Analyst with a demonstrated history of working in the asset management industry.  Key skills include Performance Measurement and Attribution, Client Reporting, Accounts Reconciliation, Management, Teamwork, and Leadership. This professional experience is founded on a strong academic history, coupled with the Chartered Financial Analyst designation awarded by the CFA Institute in 2018.  Thomas has been with AIG since February 2016 and previously worked for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.  Thomas is committed to improving the social landscape for children with additional needs and coaches the local "Football for All" program.

Julienne McEntagart

Julienne McEntagart

Co-chair of Neurodiversity Ireland

Julienne has a degree from University of Ulster in Business Management and CIPD Qualified NCI. She has 12 years experience in HR and Talent Acquisition across a number of companies (AIB, Pfizer, 3 Mobile) rolling out direct sourcing models and supporting business leads. Mum to two beautiful boys; her eldest child is neurodivergent and she wants her kids to grow up in a community that is understanding and inclusive of everyone. That they both have equal opportunities, go to school, play sports and enjoy life to the fullest.

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Ian McEntagart

Director of Neurodiversity Ireland

Ian has a BA degree from UCD, masters in business from Smurfit School of Business. 20 years experience in the IT sector. He has been with Dell Technologies for 11 years and is currently Technical Sales Manager.

 

Our Journeys

Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dyspraxia.

"My journey as a dyslexic person: When I was around 11 years old, I noticed I found writing and reading harder than my friends at school. This made me feel disconnected in class as I kept getting left behind, my parents and teachers noticed also. The next step was bringing me to an educator specialist to get a diagnosis. Once I found out I was dyslexic, it was so much easier for others to know how to accommodate and support me throughout my education. It is important to note dyslexic and dyspraxic people tend to be holistic problem solvers and intuitive, creative thinkers. It’s also important to note that neither diagnosis affects intelligence. Nonetheless, they both impact on learning style and informational processing as organisation and memory are involved to varying degrees. To find more information on that diagnosis process & support available within education please see https://dyslexia.ie/ the dyslexic association of Ireland, who also support on dyscalculia & dyspraxia."

 

ADHD

"I was concerned when my daughter was coming home from childcare with scratches on her face and was becoming frustrated with her peers and her younger sibling. We thought her tantrums were normal toddler behaviour until we became completely unable to manage them. Her childcare setting reported some aggressive behaviours, unpredictability and inability to stay still for any length of time. We attended our GP, who referred us to a child psychiatrist, who in turn diagnosed ADHD. We were encouraged to have her assessed for other conditions and found out she was autistic. Since then, we have engaged with Occupational Therapists, Psychologists and her Psychiatrist, to try to understand and meet her needs as best we possibly can. This involves integrating a lot of movement into her daily life, using a visual schedule to prepare her for the day and week, and finding out how best we can help her to regulate her emotions. For our part, we found emotional dysregulation to be her biggest barrier against social inclusion but are trying to ensure she is best equipped to give her the best chance at participation in all aspects of childhood. She is 4 years old. For more information on ADHD check out ADHD Ireland."

 

Autism

"When I noticed some early signs that my child might be autistic, the first thing I did was go to get a diagnosis. I went privately, however you can also apply for an assessment through the public route. To request an assessment or therapy services from the Early Intervention or School Age Disability teams, you need a referral from a health care professional (e.g. your public health nurse, GP, Occupational Therapist or Speech & Language Therapist). 

If the Early Intervention or School Age team accepts your referral (i.e. if they agree that your child is showing significant and complex difficulties in more than one area of functioning), you will be put on a waiting list for an assessment with that team. Unfortunately, services are very stretched at present and the waiting time is likely to be long. You will be given an approximate wait time when you are added to the waitlist. 

I also applied for the Assesment of Need process (AON). To apply for an Assessment of Need, you need to contact your local Assessment Officer (found by calling your local health centre) and they will guide you through the application process. The Assessment Officer will look for information about your child’s difficulties. There are statutory guidelines about the timing of these assessments, with the Assessment Officer needing to arrange the referral within three months of receiving your application. Once the referral is made, your child is supposed to have their assessment and a completed report within three months. However, again, as services are stretched there is often a delay with these. 


Home Tuition Grant.


This is granted by the Department of Education, for children who cannot access a suitable pre-school place.  You could be given up to 20 hours a week when your child is aged between two and a half and five years. Your SENO (special educational needs officer) has to approve the grant and for this you need a diagnosis. This is why I went to get a private diagnosis, as it can take years to get one through the HSE. 


If you go and get a diagnosis, you need to make sure they write a letter explicitly stating that your child is autistic. You then send the letter to your SENO. You can find out who your SENO is by going on the NCSE website. Before you see anyone, it can be a good idea to email your SENO and ask them if they will accept a letter from the person you are going to see. 


The DCA (Domicillary Care Allowance) is something you can apply for if you have a diagnosis. It's €350 per month which you can use to pay for private speech therapy and occupational therapy."