The election for a new government in Ireland is over.  One of my concerns about the short run-up to the election (4 weeks) is that some very good campaigns and “voices” were not given the chance to be heard.

In particular, I really liked the #disableinequality campaign and the huge amount of good work that went in to the development of the campaign.

With some further “air-play”, I think that it had a good chance of changing hearts and minds across the country.  I can only hope that those involved – like the fantastic Vivian Rath – find the energy to keep pushing people like me and you to what we all aspire to in 2016 – a country of equals and the primacy of character traits like honesty, decency, trust, respect, dignity, and compassion.

As we all know, a lot of disabilities and additional needs suffer from their relative “invisibility” – 22q being one of these.

So, with the high hopes for #disableinequality, let’s remind ourselves that there should be no league tables that differentiate between seen and unseen disabilities.


Remember – the only disability is a bad attitude.


I am very happy to post this blog from Ms Áine Lawlor.  Aine has been very generous with her “giving” to the 22q community in Ireland and beyond.


Would you like to write a blog – we could all learn a thing or two from you 🙂


Reflections on a College Experience

In many countries, issues related to education do not garner the same attention as they do in Ireland.  Perhaps that is because Irish people still consider the country to be best characterised as a nation of “Saints and Scholars”.

If there is a typographical error in a State examination paper, it will generally be reported on the front page of the National newspapers.

Third level education is virtually free (except for a student contribution – below €4,000).  Graduates do not leave the cosy confines of the third level sector with mountains of debt.

Education in Ireland is valued . . . but the educators often get a rough ride in journalistic outputs.

For students with additional requirements, the education system and supporting resources can appear “clunky”, with normal transition experiences being more difficult – something that a colleague has termed “the scenic route”.

Any student – especially one with additional needs – is a tremendous success if they can navigate the system successfully.

Thankfully, Ireland has a profession of educators that everyone can be rightly proud off.  Many teachers and principals go the extra distance for their students.  In my experience, they became teachers as a vocation – not just to earn money.

For a student with 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, there are many additional hurdles to overcome – from physical health to mental health to anxiety to friendships – with many of these issues not readily identifiable to the uninitiated.

Educational success cannot always be measured or assessed.  Weighing the pig continuously does not make it fatter.  Life-long and life-wide learning and development are the hallmarks of being able to live and enjoy the years in our lives . . . and the life in our years.


In Her Own Words  . . .

The following words are from Áine Lawlor.  Áine wrote these words in 2012 and are a reflection of her experiences in a College of Further Education.  The principal of the College, Rory O’Sullivan, is one of those school and community leaders who “get it” and create opportunities for all young people to grow and develop through participation in education.

My name is Áine Lawlor and I am 28 years of age and I just completed a two year special needs course in Killester College.  It was always a dream of mine that I would qualify in the area of work. It has happened and I am so proud of myself.

I have a syndrome called 22q Deletion syndrome. Even though you can’t see it on the outside but I can surely feel it on the inside.  I have a learning disability, math and spelling are my big issues in learning and it takes me longer to understand and grasp things.

But you know one thing I did not do was let my disability get the best of me, I overcame it.  I grew stronger doing the course in Killester.  It took a while to get the learning supports that I needed so I was on my own with not much help for a bit.  So I learned to ask for help when I needed it.  I asked tutors for help and this idea worked.

Just because certain people in this world have a learning disability doesn’t mean that they are stupid, it just means they learn in a different way to others.  And my mam says that everyone has their own intelligence no matter what.  And she is right because you know I have seen people with disabilities who can’t talk getting what they want with the way they behave and I think that that’s intelligent.

So don’t judge people with disabilities instead help them.  Life is not easy with a learning disability but I find if you’re willing to learn you can do anything you set your mind to.


By Áine Lawlor in 2012.



Posted on 11th March, 2016. Copyright Conor Mc Guckin