Fermoy Leisure Centre is extending its ‘autism hour swim’ throughout the months of July and August, where they will take place each Monday and Friday between 11am and 11.45am, with a view to rolling out the pilot project on a full time basis in future. 

The ‘autism hour swim’ was first rolled out in April and is geared towards those with autism and will take place with the lights dimmed, radio turned off and the noise level generally kept to a low level. Parents/guardians or carers of the autistic user is also granted free admission to the pool during this time.

Fermoy Leisure Centre has its own special needs room – which features a shower, toilet and adjustable changing bed – and this is available to any pool user who requires it. Manager Gayle Hickey said the ‘autism hour swim’ has proven popular with local schools and for groups who work with people with special needs or those on the autistic spectrum.

Gayle told The Avondhu that a number of primary schools in the Fermoy area use the pool on a weekly basis and the ‘autism hour swim’ caters for pupils who are autistic.

“With autistic children, routine is very important. They always attend school for the month of July, so they’re still actually coming into us on the Monday, Thursday and Friday mornings. All our regulars and anyone who comes in, we just tell them in the morning that it’ll be a little bit darker, not to worry, so they’re aware of it.

“I suppose the diagnosis has gotten better and people get diagnosed earlier nowadays, but there isn’t a school that comes into us year round who don’t have children with special needs or autism. The autistic units in the area do make use of the sessions too. They’ve had no issue with it or any problems with it, they’ve taken it on very well and they say it’s great that there’s another thing there for them.”

She added that she hopes the ‘autism hour swim’ will continue into the future beyond July and August. Cllr June Murphy welcomed the news that the ‘autism hour swim’ will be continuing and said she is delighted with the uptake it has had over the last three months. “The two hours available during the week for autistic children has been very successful,” she said.

For more information on the ‘autism hour swim’ in Fermoy Leisure Centre, contact 025-33272.