LAOCH Classroom

Our ASD Classroom has since its opening in 2011 has been called Room 42, but as we have increased to three classrooms over the last 9 years and will be relocating to a new purpose built ASD Centre in our school in the near future, it was an appropriate time to rename our classroom.

Coordinated by Ms. Duane and Ms. Burke, our ASD students were at the fore of our brainstorming, and who best to chose the most fitting name, than our own students.

LAOCH was derived from thinking of the calibre of our students being strong, resilient and courageous young adults who overcome many obstacles throughout the school day. Warrior and hero were terms that came to mind and Ms Lyons was on hand to translate ‘warrior’ into its Gaelic, ‘LAOCH’.

The LAOCH image was a product of Ashton Fields (LAOCH Classroom SNA) and our research found that this image was the most fitting to the name.

The LAOCH in Gort Community school opened in 2011 with 2 students, 1.5 teachers and 1 SNA. In August 2020 the LAOCH had grown to three classrooms with 18 students, 4.5 teachers and 6 SNAs. Students enrolled in our LAOCH are facilitated to engage with learning in the mainstream setting, combined with social skills studies, life skills and engaging in the local community.

The LAOCH provides an inclusive education within a mainstream school setting. It includes a quiet room, individual and group work stations, reading area, bean bag – chill out zone, sensory input fidget toys, iPads/surface gos and a quiet locker area. The room is a safe and comfortable space for our students to regulate, seek advice/support and to develop their special interests.

Communication between home and school is important to the development of the student, we use a daily communication diary between school and home and have communication through a designated ASD email address We welcome contact with external agencies and link regularly with services such as Speech and Language therapists, Occupational therapists, Family Support, Psychologists etc.

Adam Harris (founder of As I Am) came to visit our school in 2018 and was so impressed with the inclusion of our autistic students that he asked Ms Duane, Ms Chaplin and Ms Burke to speak at the National As I am conference on ‘Inclusion in secondary schools for students with Autism’. aims to provide support & awareness for the Autism community in Ireland. When Adam came to visit Gort CS what impressed him most was the fact that our students were included in all aspects of life in Gort CS.

Pictured are Ms. Ann-Marie Chaplin, Ms Lorraine Duane and Ms. Elaine Burke who presented at the 3rd annual National Autism ‘AsIAm’ Conference in 2018. Adam Harris, founder of ‘AsIAm’, was so impressed with how inclusive and positive our school environment is in GCS, that he asked our autism classroom teachers to share their experiences in an effort to help other schools and families build successful and inclusive secondary school communities.

LAOCH Team L – R: Elaine Burke, Ricky Keane, Lorraine Duane, Ann Marie Chaplin and Ciarán Vaughan

Contact: LAOCH Coordinator Lorraine Duane