Amanda McGuinness (left) with Deputy Michael Ring and Councillor Donna Sheridan after the launch of the communication boards in Balla playground.

Balla - an inclusive town

Mayo mum Amanda McGuinness, of the Little Puddins blog, reflects on the new communication boards in Balla playground in her twice monthly Connaught Telegraph column.

TO know that you belong and you are accepted is life changing. I know that as an autistic individual but also as a parent to three autistic sons. I see in their eyes, how they light up when they know they are accepted and as my lovely Jack says, that people are 'autism friends'.

Recently I was honoured to be part of a very special project in Balla, spearheaded by Councillor Donna Sheridan, Deputy Michael Ring and Mayo County Council together with the huge community support from all the councillors in the Castlebar district and all the wonderful community groups from Balla.

Together we collaborated on the installation of bespoke communication boards in Balla playground for children with additional needs. The project was very close to my heart as my eldest son Conor is non-speaking and uses picture communication to speak.

On the official launch of the boards, it was wonderful to see so many individuals invested and in support of a project that will have a positive impact not only on autistic children but on their families too, who will see how welcoming and inclusive Balla town is.

Balla town is a place where everyone is welcome, and everyone feels as though they belong. It is truly special, and I am thankful every single day for the huge support we receive from our wonderful community.

I was contacted through my social media during the week by a parent who had attended Balla playground, and she told me it brought tears to her eyes to see children who can speak use the communication board together with her son who is non-speaking. She told me her son was so excited that all the children understood him.

Balla town, making the world a better place for everyone.

Until next time,


Little Puddins blog and The

Autism Educator