I was very shy on Zoom last year. But my confidence got way better, I am now more talkative. I talk with my friends online, twice a week. I have more friends now. I have made new friends in the Hub and in my weekly Job Club with Ability@Work. I also receive outreach from the Hub. Before COVID-19 we used to go on day trips around the city twice a week. I do online training and certificates with my Job Coach in Ability@Work. I also work with the “Hub” and they help me during the week. We have a book club and a movie club. These are good because you can learn from movies, and audiobooks and easy reads.
It’s hard for people with different abilities to get jobs. I did have a job through Ability@Work, but unfortunately, I am not working because of COVID-19. I also used to volunteer for 4 years and I loved it, but I cannot do any volunteer work at the moment due to COVID-19 restrictions. Daragh (Job Coach at Ability@Work) was with me when I started my job and helped me with everything. She made pictures to help with my different jobs/tasks and how to do them.
Advocacy is important as you advocate on people’s rights and give a voice to people who find it hard to get a job. That’s why we are doing this campaign.
If there weren’t adult education courses in my life for the last year during the COVID-19 lockdown, my life would have been boring. I would have been bored and sad. If the Ability Board wasn't there, we wouldn't be here.
I would recommend these courses to anyone with a disability. Not only people with Autism. Because they are fun. You can go there and do something you like to do! Having follow up support allows you to try new courses that you might not have tried otherwise. That’s a good thing because you can decide on the courses you want to do. It’s all up to you.
Ireland could do better by giving extra classes and extra support for people with autism and their parents. Schools could have more ADD units – these units are for kids with autism. The Government gives employment support for people between the age of 18-29 but this leaves people over 30 years old without support. I think that is cruel, that is mean. That is not fair. The Ability board should add people to their support scheme that are over 30 as well since they also need jobs.
This story is Part of the Learners as Leaders activity within AONTAS’ current project ‘Adult and Community Education: Supported Learner Pathways 2020-2021’ as part of the European Agenda for Adult Learning.