Autism Aware
Autism Aware Autism Aware


Shine Ireland is a voluntary organisation and registered charity established by the parents of children with autism in 2001. At Shine we passionately believe that every person with autism has something unique to offer and must be given the opportunity to reach their full potential.


One of the best ways to achieve this is to make others aware of the challenges that people with autism face and as importantly the many abilities they possess.


At Shine we put the person with autism at the centre of every decision and with the ongoing commitment of our clients, their families and our staff we strive to give each person the opportunity to grow and develop. We very much hope that this presentation will assist in the positive growth of awareness and understanding of people with autism and their families and help to brighten the future for children and people with autism.


Laura Crowley

Laura Crowley holds a Masters Degree in Education and a Degree in Early Childhood Education from University College Cork and is currently the Programme Manager for the PALS (Personal & Life Skills) & Building Blocks Programmes at the Shine Centre.


Laura Crowley has over 17 years’ experience working with children and adolescents on the Autism Spectrum. In 2009, Laura designed and co-ordinated the PALS (personal and life skills) Programme for the Centre, the first of its kind in this country. The programme has achieved huge success, and is currently in its eighth year of operation. The Programme specialises in teaching social skills from a ground-up approach, mindful of barriers that may impede advancement. The PALS programme has also been developed into a free app format with over 120.000 users worldwide.


The “Social Skills for Autism” app series  provides parents, carers, teachers and SNA’s with the opportunity to provide elements of the PALS programme in the home or school classroom. Laura also lectures on the Autism Studies Programme in UCC and heads up the Connect Autism Consultancy in Cork.

Alma Carroll

Alma Carroll has been working with children on the Autism Spectrum for 20 years. Alma works as a Behavioural Specialist at the Shine Centre in Cork having previously held the position of Deputy Manager of the Shine Early Intervention Unit.


Alma also worked in an ABA school for 7 years where she received extensive training in Applied Behaviour Analysis and held the position of Supervising Class Teacher. Alma holds a degree from University College Cork in Psychology and Sociology and holds a Post Grad in Social Science from the Open University. Alma has also completed courses in PECS, Lámh and Occupational Therapy.


Alma has a particular interest in Behaviour Management and lectures on both Early Intervention and Behaviour Management on the Autism Studies course in the College of Commerce. She also delivers workshops on Behaviour Management in Autism for parents and educators and Autism Awareness workshops for companies and organisations in Cork.

Aoife Collery 

Aoife Collery holds a Masters in Applied Behaviour Analysis and a Degree in Applied Psychology.


Aoife has been working with children and teenagers with autism from early intervention through to the teenage years throughout her career.


Aoife worked for 5 years on the Personal and Life Skills (PALS) programme and has been part the Building Blocks Educational Support Service as well as contributing to content development for the Social Skills app project. Aoife is currently involved with a number of projects involving children and young adults with autism and other needs, including groups aimed at developing friendships and anxiety management.

Pat O'Leary

‘Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that – thoughts.’

These words of Allan Lokos have a profound truth and when examined in the context of our own thinking patterns they can offer us a better way to work with our thinking which so profoundly influences our behaviour and how we respond to change, challenge and uncertainty.


Pat O’Leary is a senior HR specialist in Performance Management and Coaching and holds a Masters in Change Management and Leadership from Sheffield Hallam University. Pat holds a Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy where his study specialised in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy and has a Higher Diploma in Personnel Management from UCC where he is a part-time lecturer on various Coaching and Mindfulness programmes which are offered through the University. As a strengths based coach Pat works with people in dealing with change, managing challenges and developing opportunities.


Pat holds a Masters in Mindfulness Based Interventions from UCD and works closely with many organisations, schools, healthcare centres and businesses in the introduction of mindfulness based coaching interventions to support the wellbeing of their staff and members. Core to his work is an exploration of how the mind works, positive psychology, mindfulness, turning towards difficulty and self care.

Hugh O’Donovan

Hugh O’Donovan is a Chartered Psychologist (Work / Organisational), Performance Coach, former Army Officer and Munster second row forward. As well as being Principal of Hugh O’Donovan and Associates, ( Hugh has a passionate interest in and commitment to applying the best practice, evidence based insights of strengths based psychology (positive), coaching psychology and contemplative neuroscience, in order to enhance the life experience, work performance and well-being of individuals, groups and organisations.


Hugh is Co-Founder of the 1st Masters in Coaching Psychology to be delivered in an Irish University (University College Cork) and Programme Co-Founder and Director on the Higher Diploma in Coaching / Coaching Psychology, also in UCC.


He is an honorary vice-president of the International Society for Coaching Psychology, published author in the academic coaching domain and conference speaker. He has recently published (May 2015) Mindful Walking: Walk your way to Mental and Physical Well-Being which integrates a mind / body understanding of physical, mental and emotional health, well-being and happiness.


In his spare time, he likes to trek to high, remote places, walk long distances, enjoy good company and explore archaeological artefact but not necessarily all at the one time or in that order. In June 2015, he set out from Mizen Head in the far South West corner of Ireland, to experiment with the principles elaborated in Mindful Walking. He followed the O’Sullivan Beara March of 1603, took 23 ½ Days to walk the length of Ireland and reach Malin Head, a total of 700 kilometres. He walked, he talked and he noticed a lot on his journey.


In August 2017, he set out on a short journey to walk the breath of Ireland from Galway to Dublin, along the Grand Canal. In all of this he has learned the profound importance of SHOWING UP, SLOWING DOWN and NOTICING with a particular attitude of wonder, curiosity and appreciation. In walking the length and breadth of his country there was a lot to notice and appreciate in the outer landscape. There was also a lot to notice in the inner landscape.