Clonmel High School's autism unit is now known as The Hub

High School Autism Unit

Above -  Shane Meehan cutting the ribbon on the renamed The Hub, the Autism Support Facility in Clonmel High School. Also included are principal Karen Steenson (second left), Adam Harris, AsIAm (third from right), co-ordinator Paddy O'Gorman and staff Nicola O'Sullivan (right), Ann Farrell (second from right) and Stephanie Lavin.

The Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) support facility at Clonmel High School has been called the ASD Unit for many years. 

However staff and students in the school felt that this title did not do justice to the status in which the facility is held in the school, preferring to find a name that emphasised the sense of inclusivity and integration experienced by all the students who have attended this centre over the years. 

Led by Paddy O’Gorman, the co-ordinator of the ASD support facility, it was decided to find a name for the Unit. 

Working in conjunction with the ASD/Mainstream Integration Group, suggested names were sought from  the students of the Unit, various student bodies and teaching staff. 

A number of new names were suggested and a ballot was held, with the students from the ASD Unit voting for their top three preferred names. 

Above -  Clonmel High School students with principal Karen Steenson and Adam Harris, AsIAm, at the renaming of The Hub.

Following this selection process and weeks of work and collaboration from PJ McCoole’s Second Year CSPE Class (Yeats) and the students from the ASD support facility, it was decided to have a polling day to decide on a new name. 

This process evolved into a whole school event, with 550 students and 70 staff casting their votes on this historic and important occasion for the High School. 

The renaming ceremony was a wonderful occasion for the school, which was recognised by the large attendance. 

Staff and students were joined by members of the Board of Management, Representatives from ERST (Edmund Rice Schools Trust), local politicians and the wider school community for the unveiling of the new name. 

Adam Harris, founder of AsIAm, an organisation to support those living with Autism, spoke about his own challenges with Autism and gave an insight into how everyone can contribute to making the school a more inclusive place for those students with Autism. 

Above - Staff and students of The Hub, the High School's Autism Support Facility, with Adam Harris of the autism support organisation AsIAm.

He urged all to use clear communication, say it as it is and to be patient and understanding. 

School principal Karen Steenson spoke of the esteem in which the ASD support facility was held in the school and of how it has always been at the centre of everything that happens. 

It was opened in 2009 with one student and today it caters for 18 students. 

Adam Harris pulled back the covering sheet of the new plaque, which revealed that ASD Unit would from now on be called The Hub.