In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2 April to be world autism awareness day.

The purpose of this global day of observance is to highlight the need to improve the quality of life for those with autism, their families and carers, so they can lead full and meaningful lives.

We are all made uniquely and every autistic person has their own strengths and challenges, just like people who are considered to live neuro-typically.

In his own words

In advance of this month of awareness, Irish Country Living spoke with Castlebar’s Fiacre Ryan, our country's first non-verbal autistic author.

Here, he tells us his plans for the month ahead: “This Sunday, I will be taking part in a sensory friendly walk around Lough Lannagh in Castlebar with my family and friends. This is being organised by Mayo Sports Partnership and Castlebar Autism Friendly town.

"I have been asked to speak about inclusion in a number of local schools over the coming month and I hope I can make a difference to the students' lives, from my own experiences as a young student, identifying with anyone who struggles in life for whatever reason.

"I rely on other people to look out for me, as I cannot speak, but I have found a way to communicate and use my voice.

Being different, feeling different

"I would encourage anyone who needs help to use the voice they have been given to ask for help and for others to listen and look out for their friends.

"Being different, feeling different, is a lonely place and everyone needs a helping hand at some stage in their life to make their journey easier.

"This may be autism awareness month, but my hope is that everyone would be more aware and more understanding and respectful of all difference this month.

"Autism is a part of my life, something that I live with each and every day. On good days I am rested, calm and regulated, and able to be a part of society.

"However, on other days when I am stressed and anxious, I do things that I cannot control. These are the days when I need autism awareness around me, where people understand and respect the different ways I react to the world around me.”

RTÉ documentary

Recently, a documentary that aired on RTÉ which featured Fiacre, ‘Speechless,’ beat strong competition to win the ‘Best single factual documentary' award at the Royal Society Television Awards in Galway.

Fiacre Ryan with Poppy. / Alison Laredo

We will leave you with an excerpt chosen by Fiacre from his debut book ‘Speechless.’

Understand the different

Teenager sees how I am,

Sees yet each teenage want,

Taught to spell some reasons with his sayings,

With his telling of each story to use codes

And to reach the world.

He reasons and tells sad tales of history,

When people were persecuted and exterminated,

And he reckons that some still try to silence the ones who are different.

Talk is our utmost difference,

And we are silenced when we spell what others do not want to know.

Read more

Invitation to the autistic world from Ireland’s first non-verbal autistic author

Kilbrittain Tractor Run: an update for autism awareness month