As an employee of a company specialising in mobility supplies and home care products, I was delighted to accept an invitation from the Tipperary Gold Star Initiative to attend their disability awareness training morning in Tipperary Town.
Tipperary is currently making progress towards getting the gold star, for a business to get gold star status it has to meet certain criteria, one of which is all staff must complete this training.
The morning began with Anne Branshaw from the HSE Disability services taking us through the history of the social and medical models of disability. We then moved onto disability and customer service. This for me was very interesting as in my line of work we meet many people with various disabilities and it is vital to us as a business that we are observing all the do’s and dont’s where our customers are concerned.
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The training morning continued with a focus on Autism awareness in the community. We talked about how autism can effect children and parents and how we can sometimes mistake a tantrum for an episode a child might be having as a result of having autism. Katie Mulhearn, Volunteer with the Gold Star Project, gave a presentation on how having an autistic child can effect parents and how they feel the rest of the world perceive them, particularly when out in public, to the average onlooker these children are just having a tantrum, sometimes thats just not the case, there are other circumstances to be taken into account and often partents of autistic children feel like they are being judged. Listening to Katie speak really made me think that this must be a very difficult and, I’m sure at times, heartbreaking situation for these parents. I would also like to point out that this was Katies very first presentation as she based her masters on this subject, she was fantastic and added greatly to the Disability Awareness Training.
After a quick break, the Disability Awareness Training continued. Paul Purcell, project worker with the Moorhaven Centre, Tipperary Town spoke to us about attitudes and intellectual disability. Paul was accompanied by Mary Tracey, who herself has an intellectual disability. It was a real eye opener to hear Mary speak about her hopes for the future, what she wants to accomplish and how she would love to work with small animals. She told us all about her education and what her interests and hobbies are, listening to her really brings home that intellectual disability or not her aspirations for the future really are no different to anybody elses.
The final section of the training morning was delivered by John Collins, Job Coach, with South Tipperary EmployAbility Service. John spoke to us about the role this service has in the community. This service supports both employers and employees, and encourages people with disability to secure and maintain employment. Supports available can range from career advice to follow up support. There are also many diffferent grants, incentives and schemes available for both employers and employees, for further information contact your local EmployAbility office or welfare.ie. As John said in his presentation this service is like a free recruitment agency for employers offering fully qualified and reliable staff. Qualities any business would wish their employees to have.
I would highly recommend this course and if you are an employer or an employee try to get to one and help make your business a Gold Star business for Disability Awareness.