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Interview: DCU School of Special & Inclusive Education

DCU’s School of Special and Inclusive Education are setting up a funded PhD exploring the experiences and views of autistic pupils within mainstream schools. We sat down with Dr’s Paula Flynn and and Neil Kenny of the School to talk about the programme, its ambitions for Ireland’s education system and what they think of Ireland’s first autism-friendly campus rolling out at DCU.

WHAT IS THE PhD WITH THE SCHOOL OF SPECIAL & INCLUSIVE EDUCATION ABOUT?

P: This PhD is an exciting opportunity for a motivated and qualified individual interested in carrying out important research on education for students on the autism spectrum. The scholarship is possible due to a very generous philanthropic contribution through the DCU Educational Trust. It will provide funding for fees and an annual stipend to support the researcher across the project.

New laws have been introduced in recent decades to support a policy of inclusive education for all Irish students in regular schools as much as possible. There’s therefore been an increase in the number of autistic pupils participating within mainstream classes. Many children and young people on the spectrum have the academic and cognitive skills to access education through the common curriculum; in fact, recent NCSE research has shown most are often fully included within mainstream primary and post-primary schools. For example, the government’s recent budgetary review found that between 2011 and 2016 there was an 83% increase in the number of students diagnosed with autism in the mainstream education system.

N: While the inclusion of autistic students into mainstream schools is laudable in so many ways, several commentators argue that this policy was delivered in advance of hard evidence for positive outcomes for these students in mainstream settings. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that some students on the spectrum are experiencing a range of serious challenges in mainstream schools. More worryingly, research has shown autistic children are at a greater risk of isolation or bullying compared to their neurotypical peers or other children with special needs. In the UK, one study found that 63% of young autistic people have been bullied at school. That increased to 75% at secondary school age. However, the most vulnerable were those students with less substantial needs, with 82% reporting being victims of bullying.

Inclusion can be thought of as an approach that seeks to address barriers to learning and participation and provide the resources to support those processes. Obviously, for educational inclusion to meet the needs of autistic students, it’s crucial that their views, their hopes and their preferences be considered by educators. The voice of children or young people is essential to inform and enrich future educational planning. Yet it’s a little concerning that there’s very little research in exploring their experiences within mainstream school settings, in Ireland at least.

What the PhD aims to look at are these very experiences and views of pupils on the spectrum through the lens of student voice. Recent research shows that student voice engagement has the potential to empower young people to meaningfully participate in improving their engagement with learning in school. The process may also provide a resource for educators to understand the needs of these young people within their schools, and support new practices to include students on the spectrum within mainstream settings.

DCU’S SCHOOL OF SPECIAL & INCLUSIVE EDUCATION IS THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN IRELAND. TALK TO US ABOUT IT; WHEN DID IT START UP? WHAT ARE ITS MAIN RESEARCH INTERESTS? DOES IT ENJOY AN INTAKE OF MANY STUDENTS?

P: The School started in October 2016, when DCU brought together the rich traditions in the field of St Patrick’s College, which went back to 1961, and the Church of Ireland College of Education. It has a range of expertise in areas of inclusive and special education, and serves teachers working across preschool, primary, post primary to further education.

We serve about 1,000 initial teacher-training students and 300 postgraduate students across nine different programmes each year. Two of the programmes offered are funded by the Department of Education and Skills for teachers in specialist positions in the system, including the current Graduate Certificate in the Education of Students on the Autism Spectrum.

There’s a wide range of research activity across the School, including different research projects focusing on issues relating to inclusive education and special needs education. Research undertaken by the School contributes to the dynamic growth of theory and practice in the fields of inclusive education and special needs education, while commissioned projects contribute to policy developments in the Irish context. The School’s overarching mission is a commitment to supporting the rights of all children and young people to an appropriate education.

YOU’VE TALKED ABOUT RESEARCH SHOWING HOW STUDENT VOICE ENGAGEMENT CAN EMPOWER PUPILS WITH & WITHOUT DISABILITIES. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT TERM, ‘STUDENT VOICE ENGAGEMENT’? HOW CAN IT SPECIFICALLY BENEFIT AUTISTIC STUDENTS? 

P: Student voice engagement, in this context, means when researchers ‘authentically hear’ and provide opportunities to listen to students on topics like their experiences of school, and their views on what could improve their education experience.

The ‘authenticity’ in this initiative means that the students know they have been heard and have some evidence in this regard, whether through further dialogue or the experience of change in their education as required or appropriate. This engagement is based on this model:

  • Space – a safe and inclusive opportunity to form and express a view;
  • Voice – facilitated to express views freely in medium of choice;
  • Audience – the view must be listened to;
  • Influence – the view must be acted upon.

HOW DO YOU SEE RESEARCHERS INTERACTING WITH STUDENTS DURING THE PROGRAMME?

P: Short answer: a way that allows their voices to emerge. This may well entail using a variety of ways to effectively engage with these young people and have them share their ideas. For several important reasons, we are relatively open, at this stage, regarding what approaches that will be used.

This funded PhD will enable researchers to meet and engage with students in either their homes or school settings, maybe spend time developing a relationship while giving voice to the experiences of those with autism in schools.

Obviously, the usual channels, such as interviews or focus groups, would be useful in allowing students to express themselves in their own words. However, the forms of verbal questioning and answering during the interview process may need to be expanded on to meet the needs of young people with differing communication needs or social skills. There might be options available for using different strategies to support those with substantial needs in communicating in interviews. This will depend on the needs or strengths of the young people who agree to take part.

The age profile of the participating young people may also have a major impact on how the research team choose approach interacting with a particular group. Of course, students in the early years of primary school may require differing approaches relative to how the research team would plan to interact with adolescent students in the latter years of post-primary school.

At all times, however, this research will be approached in a way that is sensitive to the rights and preferences of the young people who volunteer to take part. Their identity and their confidentiality will be respected and preserved, and their rights will at all times be respected. The research will also be conducted in line with the university’s research ethical guidelines and will be reviewed by the universities ethics committee prior to commencing.

AUTISTIC PUPILS’ INCLUSION IN MAINSTREAM SCHOOLS HAS BEEN A LONG-STANDING POLICY OF IRELAND’S EDUCATION SYSTEM. YET THIS IS ARGUABLY LESS SO IN NORTHERN IRELAND AND OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF IRELAND’S SYSTEM? 

N: The 1998 Education Act enshrined autistic students’ rights to access education, where appropriate to meeting their needs, within the mainstream educational setting into Irish law. The 2004 EPSEN Act built on this by emphasising that the responsibility to support appropriate inclusion rested with schools rather than with students. These laws have been hugely important in setting much-needed changes for inclusive practices in Ireland’s schools, moving from exclusionary and segregated provision to the current more inclusive models.

This has brought many, many benefits for those students, and indeed, for their families too. Past studies have argued that the inclusion of children on the spectrum into mainstream schools can improve their quality of life, educational performance and social development. Educational inclusion in mainstream settings has also been suggested to increase the social awareness of the other children sharing mainstream classes with young people with special or exceptional needs. As someone who has a family member on the spectrum myself, I can say that an inclusive education is something that brings huge advantages that really contribute to the education of the whole person.

The main benefits, however, really transcend the time any student on the spectrum spends in school. The rates for finishing school for those on the spectrum have improved dramatically in recent years but do remain significantly lower compared to their neurotypical peers in mainstream settings. This is important because a longstanding body of research has indicated that there’s a strong link between education levels, employment chances, and income earned over someone’s lifetime. The reality is that participation rates for those with a disability in third level education, while improving dramatically in recent years, remain relatively low at 12,630 – 5.7% of the total student population. Autistic students with less substantive needs only make up 5.4% of that total number of student with disabilities at higher level. Challenges also remain for retaining students with disabilities within the further education sector.

Recent census data shows that people with disabilities are much more likely to be unemployed compared to the working age general population in Ireland. Workforce participation rates for those with a disability are 29% compared to 66% for general population. Given that factors like school qualifications, participation in the workforce, and income levels are often quoted in the context of quality of life measures, the levels of engagement for individuals on the autism spectrum across their lifespan is vitally important for quality of life as a whole.

Recent demographic evidence suggests increased levels of involvement for students with disabilities across all levels of the Irish education sector in the recent decades. An inclusive school environment, in this context, is important for supporting autistic students to learn skills that will enable them to take part in society as adults. Success in school will encourage self-expectations amongst these young people.

It’s important that we get our approaches to including autistic students within mainstream schools right, to support their success across their whole lifespan. Inclusive education, however, is not about special needs, it is about all students. As such, it’s vital that their voices are heard to develop awareness, understanding and support among their peers, their teachers and parents in the wider school community.  It’s in this context that the current research project came about, and we have high hopes of making an important contribution.

HOW WOULD YOU FEEL ABOUT INTERVIEWING A CANDIDATE FOR THE PROGRAMME &, GOING FURTHER, TAKING ON ONE WHO MEET THE CRITERIA & WHO WAS AUTISTIC THEMSELVES?

P: We’re very open to working with any person who fits the criteria and who can convince us that they’re the best fit for this research opportunity. We certainly wouldn’t see any barriers to someone on the spectrum who met the criteria being successful. In fact, one of the most important aspects of the criteria is knowledge of or experience working with young people on the spectrum. Obviously, an individual who is themselves autistic would score very well on that particular aspect of the criteria!

N: Indeed, both of us have significant experience of working alongside individuals with diverse learning profiles and have experience of supervising or co-researching on different projects. I’ve past experience of working on a project at the University of Limerick, where the academic staff worked collaboratively with individuals living with an intellectual disability as co-researchers. I found this to be a very enriching, rewarding and, above all, effective research experience. I’m also presently supervising a PhD for a student who has a traumatic brain injury that’s exploring their lived experience as a student in third level.

P: In my role as a post-primary teacher, I taught children with a broad range of additional needs, including autism. I was the Director of Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (2014 – 2016) prior to taking up my current role at DCU. My research over the past decade has focused on listening to students within an inclusive framework.

HOW DO YOU THINK THE ROLLOUT OF AN AUTISM-FRIENDLY CAMPUS AT DCU WILL INFLUENCE THE RESEARCH, AS WELL THE SCHOOL OF SPECIAL & INCLUSIVE EDUCATION?

N: The upcoming rollout of the autism-friendly university project is an initiative that we’re both very exciting about. Its impact will be felt right across DCU. I believe that the current scholarship aligns very well with the project’s objectives and goes on to compliment the wider focus.

Inclusion for students at third level is, of course, the Autism-Friendly University’s focus; our research aims to give voice to students across primary and second-level education, with the aim of supporting future best practices in inclusive education for students on the spectrum. Taken together, both projects are committed to supporting access to inclusive education for autistic students at all levels of education in Ireland.

by - 13 March, 2018

Last updated by - August 9, 2018

in Featured News

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Welcome to Our Week Online - because these days, media is all about the signal boost. In the U...[...]

Autism_Coping _Mechanisms

Eoin Hickey – Why I Like Having Autism and ADHD

by - 1 March, 2019

ADD/ADHD are common co-occuring conditions within the autism community. Sometimes the traits of t...[...]

Help Raise Funds For AsIAm By Taking Part In The VHI Women’s Mini Marathon 2020

by - 26 February, 2019

Help Raise Funds For AsIAm By Taking Part In The VHI Women's Mini Marathon 2020   Date: ...[...]

Our Week Online – 24/2/2019

by - 24 February, 2019

Welcome to Our Week Online. Did anyone else struggle with knowing what to wear in the sudden warm...[...]

autism_community_support

Community Support Update and FAQs

by - 22 February, 2019

We want to give you all an update on our Community Support seminars so far! We've held five event...[...]

Interview: Dr. Linda O’Rourke and Elzaan Marnane of Core Clinical

by - 21 February, 2019

It's no secret that meaningful supports and services for autistic people in Ireland are tough to ...[...]

survey_education_autism

Call Out: Complete Our Survey on Adult Autism Diagnosis

by - 21 February, 2019

In partnership with Core Clinical, we invite autistic people with a formal adult diagnosis of aut...[...]

autism and play_community support

What We Learned – Autism and Play: Promises and Possibilities

by - 21 February, 2019

On Monday evening we held our Community Support event in Co. Limerick on Autism and Play. We ...[...]

autism_friendly_town

Are You Ready to create your Autism Friendly Town?

by - 19 February, 2019

AsIAm and SuperValu were proud to partner with the community of Clonakilty in creating Ireland’s ...[...]

Our Week Online – 17/2/2019

by - 17 February, 2019

This is Our Week Online. We hope you all had a Happy Valentine’s Day (and an even better Galentin...[...]

Interview: Julie McCabe

by - 16 February, 2019

For those of you who watched the most recent episode of Ireland’s Got Talent last Saturday at...[...]

Noel Ward and Michael McEnery’s April Ultra-Marathon in aid of AsIAm!

by - 14 February, 2019

Autism Awareness Month is coming up soon in April, and two men are planning to give it their all ...[...]

right_to_earn_living

A Right to Earn a Living ~ AsIAm Explains

by - 12 February, 2019

Last week, Education and Skills Minister Joe McHugh TD stated that his Department would be appeal...[...]

Our Week Online – 10/2/2019

by - 10 February, 2019

This is Our Week Online. Sit down, why don't you? A quarter of the disabled population of Irel...[...]

community_support

What We Learned – Community Support: Puberty and Sexuality

by - 8 February, 2019

Last night we held our Puberty and Sexuality Community Support seminar in Co. Wicklow, and we're ...[...]

Being a True Friend by Rachael Donohoe

by - 7 February, 2019

Here at AsIAm it's important to us to champion the work of the autistic community. That's why we ...[...]

Orán Timoney – Special Award Winner at BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition!

by - 5 February, 2019

We're very proud to say that Orán Timoney, a member of our first Youth Leadership Team and now an...[...]

Autism_Coping _Mechanisms

Eoin Hickey – Autism and Coping Mechanisms

by - 4 February, 2019

Last week AsIAm launched two surveys on the experiences of autistic students in accessing educati...[...]

Our Week Online – 3/2/2019

by - 3 February, 2019

It's Sunday, and February is here which means, whether it feels like it or not, Spring has come t...[...]

survey_education_autism

Call Out: Complete Our Surveys on School Places and Exclusion/Withdrawal

by - 30 January, 2019

As the national autistic advocacy organisation, AsIAm receives a huge volume of messages from fam...[...]

independent_living

What We Learned – Community Support: Independent Living and Housing

by - 29 January, 2019

Last week we held our first 2019 Community Support event in Ratoath, County Meath, on the topic o...[...]

Our Week Online – 27/1/2019

by - 27 January, 2019

It's 2019, and welcome to Our Week Online. How are you doing with your New Year's Resolutions? If...[...]

“It’s Not A Disorder”: Minister Joe McHugh Challenges Himself and TDs on Inclusive Language around Autism

by - 23 January, 2019

 Following constructive and insightful discussions and correspondence with AsIAm in recent week...[...]

Interview: Daniel Kennedy

by - 22 January, 2019

Art is a natural fit for many people on the autism spectrum. Whether it's done as a hobby or a fo...[...]

asiam_asti_meeting

Constructive Meeting between AsIAm & ASTI Representatives

by - 21 January, 2019

Representatives from both AsIAm and the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) met last...[...]

asiam-condemns-asti-advice.jpg.

AsIAm Condemns the ‘Pick & Choose’ Approach to Meeting Students’ Needs from the ASTI & TUI

by - 19 December, 2018

Sign our petition calling for the ASTI & TUI to revise their advice here!   AsIAm, I...[...]

Our Week Online – 16/12/2018

by - 16 December, 2018

Welcome to the last Our Week Online of 2018. This will be our last round up of the year because w...[...]

Kelli Twomey: “This is ME”

by - 10 December, 2018

Kelli Twomey, a mother of an autistic child, sent us this poem from her child's perspective, and ...[...]

Our Week Online – 9/12/2018

by - 9 December, 2018

Welcome to Our Week Online. Don't know what it is about December, but the autism and disability s...[...]

We Need an Inclusive, Measurable Autism Strategy

by - 6 December, 2018

AsIAm has said the publication by the Department of Health of two reports relating to autism must...[...]

Our Week Online – 2/12/2018

by - 2 December, 2018

Welcome to Our Week Online. This is the biggest roundup so far, but it was a big week! Go and boi...[...]

National Autism Conference 2018 Speaker Presentations

by - 26 November, 2018

It's been a month since our National Autism Conference in October, and we've received wonderful f...[...]

Our Week Online – 25/11/2018

by - 25 November, 2018

Welcome to Our Week Online, a round up of autism and disability related news around the world, ar...[...]

Kevin Hanly: Living With Autism at Christmas Time

by - 23 November, 2018

The end of November is near, and while there's still a few weeks left until Christmas, preparing ...[...]

Introducing AsIAm Socks!

by - 19 November, 2018

Yes, you read that right - AsIAm now have our very own limited edition socks, available to buy! ...[...]

Interview: Elaine Harris

by - 19 November, 2018

Elaine Harris is a yoga teacher who founded The Yoga Shed in Co. Wicklow in 2014, which serves to...[...]

Our Week Online – 18/11/2018

by - 18 November, 2018

Welcome to Our Week Online, probably the only news roundup this week that doesn't include Brexit....[...]

Our Week Online – 11/11/2018

by - 11 November, 2018

It's Sunday, winter has definitely arrived, and there's only six weeks to Christmas! Welcome to O...[...]

Community Support – Autism in the Home, University College Cork, Cork

by - 6 November, 2018

AsIAm is hosting twenty four Community Support Seminar talks around the country over the next twe...[...]

Community Support – Autism and the Law, RCSI, Dublin

by - 6 November, 2018

AsIAm is hosting twenty four Community Support Seminar talks around the country over the next twe...[...]

Our Week Online – 4/11/2018

by - 4 November, 2018

It's Sunday, and welcome to Our Week Online. Here's the internet's tricks and treats from the pas...[...]

Interview: Nicholas Ryan-Purcell

by - 2 November, 2018

Nicholas Ryan-Purcell is an autistic filmmaker from Co. Tipperary. His latest film is called This...[...]

Our Week Online – 28/10/2018

by - 28 October, 2018

It's Sunday, Halloween is almost here, Ireland is (hopefully) done with voting for the year, and ...[...]

Call Out: NCSE Consultations on Special Schools and Classes

by - 24 October, 2018

Our survey on special schools and classes is now live and open to the public! If you're a school ...[...]

Autism Friendly Santa School

by - 24 October, 2018

*Due to the huge amount of inquiries we have had about our Autism Friendly Santa Training, we...[...]

autism_community_support

Community Support Survey 2018

by - 23 October, 2018

We at AsIAm invite the autism community in Ireland to take part in our new Community Support Surv...[...]

Research Opportunity: Building Inclusive Healthcare for People with Autism, NUI Galway

by - 23 October, 2018

AsIAm.ie is delighted to share this research opportunity with our users. If you are interested in...[...]

Our Week Online – 21/10/2018

by - 21 October, 2018

It's Sunday, and welcome to Our Week Online. The AsIAm team are having a well-deserved rest after...[...]

Laragh Smith: My Experience of an Inclusive Community

by - 19 October, 2018

The theme of this year's National Autism Conference is "Building Inclusive Communities". Laragh, ...[...]

Update: National Autism Conference 2018

by - 18 October, 2018

AsIAm National Autism Conference is just two days away! Our team are putting the final details to...[...]

Meet Our New Community Support Officer!

by - 17 October, 2018

Last month, we introduced you to our new Information Officer, Eleanor Walsh. Today, we would like...[...]

National Autism Conference 2018 – Autism Welcoming Venue and Experience

by - 16 October, 2018

National Autism Conference is less than a week away, in the Grand Hotel, Malahide, Dublin, this S...[...]

A First For Ireland With Clonakilty Becoming Ireland’s First Autism Friendly Town

by - 16 October, 2018

SuperValu and AsIAm partner with the entire community of Clonakilty to secure full Autism Friendl...[...]

Our Week Online – 14/10/2018

by - 14 October, 2018

Here's a new series on the website where we round up some of the best writing on autism, disabili...[...]

Stephen Shore Visits AsIAm and DCU

by - 5 October, 2018

Last week AsIAm was honoured to welcome Dr. Stephen Shore, noted autistic academic and speaker, t...[...]

The Clonakilty Commitment – Training Week!

by - 3 October, 2018

The town of Clonakilty in Co. Cork has undertaken a commitment to become fully Autism Friendly – ...[...]

What Strategies can I use for my Non-Verbal Child to ease their Transition?

by - 28 September, 2018

All autistic children experience challenges in communication. While many might have an extensive ...[...]

BUY YOUR COPY: Mary Immaculate publishes a handbook for educators – “Autism from the Inside Out”

by - 21 September, 2018

AsIAm would like to thank Dr Emer Ring and her colleagues from Mary Immaculate College (MIC)'s De...[...]

Meet Our New Information Officer!

by - 21 September, 2018

AsIAm is delighted to welcome two new members of staff to our team this autumn! Michael O'Flan...[...]

How Can I Apply for a Special Needs Assistant (SNA)?

by - 20 September, 2018

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has just completed a review of the Special Need...[...]

Autism Experience Exhibition in Clonakilty on Thursday 27th September!

by - 20 September, 2018

SuperValu and AsIAm.ie will host a unique exhibition which will enable the people of Clonakilty t...[...]

How can My Child Be Supported if They’re Having a Meltdown?

by - 20 September, 2018

Research continues to tell us that we must view ‘challenging behaviour’ as a way in which the chi...[...]

How can I Explain My Child’s Sensory Needs to their New Teacher?

by - 19 September, 2018

Your child’s teacher may already be aware of autistic children's sensory needs. However, if your ...[...]

What’s an Individual Education Plan (IEP) & how can I Set One Up for My Child?

by - 18 September, 2018

An Individual Education Plan, often referred to as an ‘IEP’, is a plan to support your child’s le...[...]

What can I Do if my Child Doesn’t Want to go Back to School?

by - 14 September, 2018

If your child doesn’t want to go back to school, it's important to talk about the reasons why the...[...]

How can I help Ease My Child Back into the School Routine from Home?

by - 11 September, 2018

We all struggle getting back into our regular routine after holidays and for autistic children, w...[...]

What Resources are Available to Support Families on their Transitions in School?

by - 7 September, 2018

There is a wide range of resources available to support parents and children on this exciting jou...[...]

Is it a Good Idea to Arrange a Meeting with their Teacher? If so, What Should I Ask?

by - 4 September, 2018

It is a really good idea and absolutely essential to arrange a meeting with your child’s teacher,...[...]

Are there Things I can do at Home to Prepare my Child for Starting School?

by - 31 August, 2018

Parents and families are preparing their children for school from the day they are born and not j...[...]

What are the Most Important Things to Consider when Choosing a School for my Child?

by - 29 August, 2018

Starting school is one of the biggest events in both a family member's and a child's life. All be...[...]

Kevin Hanley: Back to Routine!

by - 27 August, 2018

Returning to routine after a break can be a tough one to get your head around, especially after a...[...]

Mia Duffy: New Start at College

by - 24 August, 2018

Starting college is a huge change for everyone. The transition, from the application to accepting...[...]

Trish Flood: Holidaying Tips for Autism Families

by - 15 August, 2018

Some autism families worry about the challenge of taking an overseas holiday. Here are some ideas...[...]

Laura Gleasure: Am I Autistic?

by - 6 July, 2018

Autism is often thought of as an 'invisible' difference in people living with it. Many of its key...[...]

AsIAm CEO Speaks before the Oireachtas Education Committee

by - 27 June, 2018

AsIAm Founder and CEO Adam Harris called on the Department of Education to deliver training to te...[...]

Melissa Mooney: Autism is a Superpower!

by - 19 June, 2018

Melissa, a young woman living with Asperger's, talks about her experiences with her autism and ab...[...]

AsIAm official charity partner at the forthcoming Arsenal vs Chelsea match

by - 13 June, 2018

It was with great pride and excitement that we announce today that AsIAm will be charity partner ...[...]

NCSE’s Review of Special Needs Assistants Explained

by - 31 May, 2018

This week, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) launched its review into the Special...[...]

Ciara Fehilly: A Colourful Friendship with Autism

by - 11 May, 2018

How many of us have dreamt of being that parent who has the most amazing bond with their child? T...[...]

AsIAm National Autism Conference 2018: “Building Inclusive Communities”

by - 6 May, 2018

We are delighted to make the tickets available for our 3rd Annual AsIAm National Autism Conferenc...[...]

Interview: Jody O’Neill – Autism & Entrepreneurship

by - 4 May, 2018

Jody O’Neill is a young self-advocate attending Castletroy College in County Limerick. She has se...[...]

Stimming

by - 25 April, 2018

Stimming (short for self-stimulatory behaviour) is a repetitive series of actions which an autist...[...]

Building an Autism-Friendly Environment

by - 23 April, 2018

Day #22 of our #AsIAmChallenge for World Autism Day is about helping prepare for an autism-friend...[...]

Aisling Foran: Listening & Social Groups

by - 20 April, 2018

WHAT IS THE TRIPLE A ALLIANCE? Triple A Alliance was set up in 2002 by a group of parents who wa...[...]

Make Your Club Autism-Friendly

by - 19 April, 2018

Awareness about autism has increased among society in recent years. This is a positive developmen...[...]

Check In & Ask

by - 18 April, 2018

Day #17 of our #AsImChallenge is about checking in and asking. Successful autism inclusion is ...[...]

Conducting Autism-Friendly Interviews

by - 17 April, 2018

Day #16 of our #AsIAmChallenge is about preparing for autism-friendly interviews. Businesses h...[...]

Creating a Quiet Space

by - 16 April, 2018

Sensory rooms or quiet spaces are designated areas where autistic people can use to stim or retre...[...]

Create a “Social story” for your business or organisation

by - 15 April, 2018

Social stories are short guides of a particular situation, event or activity. They include specif...[...]

#Day 13 Making Written Communication Clear

by - 14 April, 2018

Day#13 of our #AsIAmChallenge is about using Plain English when communicating. We often think ...[...]

Making Your Organisation Sensory-Friendly

by - 13 April, 2018

Day#12 of our #AsIAmChallenge is about being aware of people's sensory needs. Autistic individual...[...]

Check out our Sensory Checklist Tool!

by - 13 April, 2018

It's Day 12 of #AsIAmChallenge and things have taken a big step up! Today we are challenging memb...[...]

Autism & Stereotyping

by - 12 April, 2018

Autism is widely known yet it is not widely understood. Awareness of the condition has grown in r...[...]

CALLOUT: World Autism Awareness Month Blogs

by - 6 April, 2018

Personal stories and experiences, sharing and openly discussing them, are what make any awarene...[...]

Sensory Awareness in Practice

by - 4 April, 2018

An autistic person’s brain may struggle to receive and respond to information collected through t...[...]

Top Tips for Being Patient

by - 3 April, 2018

ONE PIECE OF INFORMATION AT A TIME Autistic people love routine and predictability. Knowing what...[...]

World Autism Month: The #AsIAmChallenge

by - 2 April, 2018

World Autism Month gives us an opportunity to celebrate the autism community, highlight the chall...[...]

Teach Me AsIAm Early Years Programme Arrives at Limerick

by - 30 March, 2018

Up to sixty early years professionals attended the ‘Teach Me AsIAm’ Early Years seminar in Limeri...[...]

Ciara Walsh: Finding & Working for my Passion

by - 28 March, 2018

All my life I have known that I am different, at the mere age of three I was diagnosed with autis...[...]

DCU Autism-Friendly Campus Launched Today

by - 22 March, 2018

Dublin City University was recognised as the world’s first autism-friendly university by AsIAm to...[...]

Top Tips for an Autism-Friendly St Patrick’s Day

by - 16 March, 2018

St Patrick's Day is a great way to spend time with our friends and families and celebrate being I...[...]

AsIAm Cautiously Welcomes the UNCRPD’s Ratification

by - 8 March, 2018

AsIAm welcomes the government’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Pe...[...]

‘Teach Me As I Am’ Early Years Training Programme Update

by - 3 March, 2018

AsIAm launched the ‘Teach Me As I Am’ Early Years Autism Programme in North Dublin on Monday 19th...[...]

Changes In Routine: What do I do?

by - 28 February, 2018

Changes in schedule or routine can make autistic people – children as well as adults – anxious an...[...]

Secondary School Workshop at Colaiste Gleann Lí

by - 28 February, 2018

This week, Adam Harris visited Colaiste Gleann Lí in Tralee, Co. Kerry, as part of AsIAm’s second...[...]

AsIAm CEO Addresses SuperValu 2018 Conference

by - 27 February, 2018

This week, the AsIAm team attended SuperValu’s annual conference in Killarney, Co. Kerry, with th...[...]

Turning Sixteen

by - 26 February, 2018

Growing up is an inevitable part of life. We often talk about the different challenges and strate...[...]

Welcome to our new Board of Directors members!

by - 22 February, 2018

BRIAN IRWIN Brian is a Cork native, living in the heart of the city all his life. He enjoys orga...[...]

Nicole Duggan: My Boy Blue

by - 19 February, 2018

Nicola Duggan is a young parent of a child on the autism spectrum. She has been blogging about he...[...]

Spotlight: Autism Spectrum Fitness

by - 15 February, 2018

Fitness and keeping up exercise can be challenging habits to start, nevermind keep, for those of ...[...]

Interview: YLT’s Ben Rowsome & his Garda Youth Award

by - 9 February, 2018

Earlier this week, Co. Wicklow's Ben Rowsome was nominated for a Garda Youth Award for his advoca...[...]

Recap: Why don’t You start Autism-Friendly Practice?

by - 6 February, 2018

Last week, our CEO Adam Harris featured on RTÉ Radio 1's The Business programme, discussing the g...[...]

Daniel Fitzpatrick: Mental Health & Being on the Autism Spectrum

by - 31 January, 2018

Autistic individuals are likelier to develop complications with their own mental health than thos...[...]

Welcome Progress on Ratifying UN Disabilities Convention in Ireland

by - 30 January, 2018

AsIAm has welcomed progress in ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilit...[...]

AsIAm CEO Condemns Irish Rail’s Quiet Carriages Phasing-Out

by - 26 January, 2018

AsIAm CEO Adam Harris has condemned Irish Rail’s move to phase out its quiet carriages from its D...[...]

Announcing our ‘Teach Me As I Am’ Early Years Programme

by - 12 January, 2018

AsIAm are delighted to announce the dates and locations for our new training programme for early ...[...]

Interview: Dr John Hillery

by - 10 January, 2018

Dr John Hillery is the President of the College of Psychiatrists in Ireland.  In this exclusive ...[...]

Brian Irwin: Accessibility & Finding the Supports You Need

by - 19 December, 2017

Brian Irwin, a self advocate based in Cork, talks about his personal journey as a young person on...[...]

Learn My Language Online Campaign Launch

by - 14 December, 2017

Communication skills are one of the toughest hurdles for autistic people to develop. Many individ...[...]

AsIAm CEO attends SuperValu Autism-Friendly Shopping Project Launch

by - 1 December, 2017

AsIAm Founder and CEO Adam Harris helped launch SuperValu’s Autism-Friendly Shopping project earl...[...]

Kevin Hanly: “Take it One Day at a Time”

by - 28 November, 2017

Beginning a new start anywhere – whether it’s a new school, a new college or a job – is as exciti...[...]

Eleanor Walsh: “You Matter!”

by - 23 November, 2017

Eleanor Walsh, a member of our Youth Leadership Team, lets those of us on the spectrum know why w...[...]

Brian Irwin: Sensory Overload & Meltdowns

by - 8 November, 2017

Sensory overloads are common experiences with many autistic individuals and can often lead to mel...[...]

Interview: PRISM DLR Autism Support Group

by - 25 October, 2017

Support groups are invaluable resources for the autism community, from individuals on the spectru...[...]

Laura Crean: Just what is a ‘successful’ transition?

by - 17 October, 2017

Laura Crean is a member of AsIAm's Youth Leadership Team and currently in her first year of study...[...]

Kevin McLoughlin: ‘Look At Me Now’

by - 4 October, 2017

Kevin McLoughlin is a member of our Youth Leadership Team and is currently completing his Leaving...[...]

Louise Ryan: Knowing Parents’ Rights for Your Child’s Education

by - 2 October, 2017

Louise Ryan from Co. Limerick, a mother of two young boys on the autistic spectrum, talks about h...[...]

Socialising & Building Social Skills

by - 29 September, 2017

Amid preparing for school or for college, whilst we’re often completely caught up worrying if we’...[...]

AsIAm Founder & CEO Adam Harris Speaks at Mary Immaculate College

by - 25 September, 2017

The AsIAm team travelled to Limerick City on Friday, where our Founder and CEO Adam Harris delive...[...]

Joanne Weller: Back to Education and Transitioning from School to College and Further Education

by - 22 September, 2017

It’s the time of month again to go back to school and starting third level education, even going ...[...]

Kevin Hanly: New Journeys Starting College

by - 1 September, 2017

With the college term fast approaching, students across Ireland are busy readying themselves for ...[...]

Spotlight: HSE ASD Review

by - 30 August, 2017

HSE ASD Review The HSE are seeking written submissions for a review into the different services p...[...]

Summer on the Autistic Spectrum: A Parent’s Take

by - 23 August, 2017

Summers can be challenging for the parents of autistic children. With school out, regular routine...[...]

Spotlight: Dr Temple Grandin in Cork

by - 21 August, 2017

The AsIAm team travelled to Cork city this Friday past to attend an afternoon lecture from Dr Tem...[...]

Autism and the Internet: Keeping Yourself Safe Online

by - 11 August, 2017

The internet can be a powerful platform and a huge resource for the autistism community. A wealth...[...]

Sibling Safety this Summer

by - 4 August, 2017

The season of summer is well underway. As we enter August, children everywhere across Ireland wi...[...]

Spotlight: Sensory Room at the Sligo Clayton Hotel

by - 2 August, 2017

This week, Sligo’s Clayton Hotel became the first hotel in Ireland to establish a room specifical...[...]

Poem: BE YOU – NIQUE

by - 25 July, 2017

Leigh E. O'Brien's young nephew Liam lives with autism. Earlier this year, she composed this poem...[...]

Spotlight: Middletown Centre for Autism

by - 24 July, 2017

The Middletown Centre for Autism is an educational and research facility whose work revolves arou...[...]

Adam Kennefick: Autism Through My Eyes

by - 17 July, 2017

When I was just a small child, my parents and teachers noticed something different about me. They...[...]

The National Disability Inclusion Strategy – what is it?

by - 14 July, 2017

WHAT IS THE NATIONAL DISABILITY INCLUSION STRATEGY? The National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2...[...]

Interview: Senator Dr. James Reilly

by - 13 July, 2017

Earlier this week, as his Autism Spectrum Disorder Bill passed through the Seanad, we sat down wi...[...]

Positive progress made as Autism Bill passes through Seanad Éireann

by - 13 July, 2017

AsIAm Ireland has warmly welcomed the passage through Seanad Éireann of the Autism Spectrum Disor...[...]

Interview: Autism, Tipp G.A.A. and Me

by - 6 July, 2017

This week, we sat down with Kevin Hanly, a young man from Tipperary to talk about his experiences...[...]

Sean Foley: My ongoing experiences with feelings

by - 4 July, 2017

For an autistic individual like myself, 'feelings' is something of a grey area. We do experience ...[...]

Top Tips for a Successful St. Patrick’s Day

by - 17 March, 2017

Well excitement will have been building, in schools across Ireland, over the past week for the an...[...]

BLOG: Hello from the other side

by - 10 March, 2017

Trish Flood, a mum to two boys on the Autism Spectrum and a super advocate for the Autism Communi...[...]

Stepping off the treadmill: Getting a Diagnosis as an Adult

by - 10 March, 2017

A blog by Brian Irwin,  AsIAm Volunteer & Secondary School Speaker in the Cork Region [captio...[...]

Autism & Me Documentary – Monday 13th March, 9:35pm on RTE One

by - 8 March, 2017

We are very exciting for the release of a new RTE One Documentary, produced by Firebrand Producti...[...]

NEW SERIES – “AutismQs” – Your Questions, Answered

by - 9 September, 2016

During the month of September, AsIAm is excited to be bringing you a whole range of new content, ...[...]

VIDEO: AsIAm Says Hi – What supports are available to students with Autism?

by - 8 September, 2016

There is so many different people and organisations doing great things to support people with Aut...[...]

VIDEO: Autism – Emily’s perspective as a sibling

by - 6 September, 2016

We recently came across this extraordinary video on YouTube. The video features the sibling of a ...[...]

NEW MONTHLY COMPETITION: Your thoughts on…

by - 1 September, 2016

We are excited to announce a new monthly competition on AsIAm.ie! Every month we will ask users t...[...]

Yvonne Newbold: Top Tips for Parents at the start of the School Year

by - 8 September, 2015

Yvonne Newbold is a parent and advocate for those affected by Autism in the UK. Yvonne wrote a bo...[...]

Michael Ryan: Secondary School – Getting off to the right start

by - 1 September, 2015

Starting or returning to Secondary School can be a big change and a challenge for all students, h...[...]

AsYouCan: Focus on Sports & Extra-Curricular Clubs

by - 22 April, 2015

As part of our “AsYouCan” Campaign, for World Autism Awareness Month, each day in April we will s...[...]

President Michael D. Higgins becomes Patron of AsIAm.ie

by - 22 April, 2015

AsIAm.ie is pleased to announce that the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has kindly agr...[...]

“AsYouCan”: Focus on Healthcare

by - 14 April, 2015

As part of our “AsYouCan” Campaign, for World Autism Awareness Month, each day in April we will s...[...]

“AsYouCan”: Focus on Public Transport

by - 10 April, 2015

As part of our “AsYouCan” Campaign, for World Autism Awareness Month, each day in April we will s...[...]

“AsYouCan”: Focus on Restaurants & Bars

by - 9 April, 2015

As part of our “AsYouCan” Campaign, for World Autism Awareness Month, each day in April we will...[...]

“AsYouCan”: Focus on Retail

by - 8 April, 2015

  As part of our "AsYouCan" Campaign, for World Autism Awareness Month, each day in April...[...]

AsYouCan Campaign – What can you do to be more Autism-Friendly?

by - 1 April, 2015

This World Autism Awareness Month, AsIAm is calling on every individual, organisation and sector ...[...]

Sean Foley: Retail and Aspergers Syndrome

by - 23 February, 2015

Sean Foley, a frequent blogger on this site, shares his experiences of retail, both sides of th...[...]

Julie Direen: Why I wouldn’t change my son one bit!

by - 12 February, 2015

Being a parent of a child with Autism can be challenging but, as Julie Direen shares, it can also...[...]

Sean Foley: A High-Functioning Airline?

by - 4 February, 2015

Sean Foley is a self-advocate, based in Co. Kerry. Sean frequently writes and speaks about his ex...[...]

Carrie Burton: Acceptance and Understanding is key

by - 2 February, 2015

[caption id="attachment_3318" align="alignleft" width="300"] Carrie, centre, at our recent "Back ...[...]

AsIAm seeks cultural and legislative change to protect vulnerable people

by - 10 December, 2014

The online support and advocacy group for people with autism, AsIAm.ie, has said Ireland needs ...[...]

Jonathan Victory: Aspergers Syndrome & Martial Arts

by - 5 December, 2014

Jonathan Victory shares his positive experiences of Martial Arts as someone with Aspergers Synd...[...]

Dolores Crowley: Let’s focus on the positives

by - 10 November, 2014

Dolores Crowley works for Financial Wellbing, advising parents of children with Special Needs abo...[...]

Free Ebook: 30 Winning Tips for Better Meetings by Yvonne Newbold

by - 31 October, 2014

One stressful aspect of being a parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum is getting the right sup...[...]

Lisa Domican: If I can’t talk, how can I tell you where it hurts?

by - 1 October, 2014

Lisa Domican, Founder of Grace App, talks about the challenge for parents in identifying pain in ...[...]

Parents Guide: Birthday Parties

by - 29 September, 2014

Attending, and having, a Birthday party is an important part of growing up! For children with A...[...]

RTE News Six:One – AsIAm.ie “Back to School” Handbooks

by - 10 September, 2014

The challenges of "Back to School" for students with Autism, and the launch of the AsIAm.ie "Back...[...]

Kenneth Whelan: “Why don’t you take Ethan to this CoderDojo thing?”

by - 25 August, 2014

Many families affected by Autism may be considering possible suitable extra-curricular activities...[...]

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My Child / All About Me Handbooks: Every child with Autism is different

by - 24 August, 2014

There is an old adage: "If you know one person with Autism, you know one person with Autism" It ...[...]

Newstalk Breakfast: Vanessa Fox-O’Loughlin shares her story & AsIAm “Back to School” Handbooks

by - 22 August, 2014

Yesterday we were delighted to launch our AsIAm "Back to School" Handbooks for teachers, parents...[...]

Press Conference: AsIAm “Back to School” Handbooks

by - 21 August, 2014

AsIAm.ie has today published a series of guides to help people with autism deal with the major ch...[...]

Sean O’Rourke Show Podcast: AsIAm “Back to School” Handbooks

by - 20 August, 2014

Tomorrow, AsIAm will launch its "Back to School" Handbooks on Autism, for parents, students and t...[...]

Download Today: AsIAm “Back to School” Handbooks

by - 20 August, 2014

Education can throw up many challenges for students with Autism such as the environment, structur...[...]

Carrie Burton: Jack makes three for us

by - 17 June, 2014

Frequent blogger and AsIAm Liaison Officer, Carrie Burton, writes of the challenges of a third di...[...]

Sinead Farrelly: Living with Asperger’s in College

by - 17 June, 2014

Sinead Farrelly bravely tells us what it's been like being an 'aspie' in college. Originally publ...[...]

Yvonne Newbold: 10 Great Things People with Autism can add to society

by - 3 June, 2014

Yvonne Newbold is the author of "The Special Parent's Handbook", a practical, hands-on parenting ...[...]

Shauna Gilligan: “Mama, the sunrise is orange”

by - 14 April, 2014

Shauna Gilligan is a writer and mother of a son on the Autism Spectrum. In the article below, she...[...]

Carrie Burton: A second diagnosis in the family

by - 14 April, 2014

Frequent blogger, Carrie Burton, writes on the recent diagnosis of her second child, Ava, with AD...[...]

Dr Aoife Lyons: Organisational & Study Skills

by - 5 April, 2014

  Dr Aoife Lyons, licensed clinical psychologist and university lecturer in UCD and DCU, ha...[...]

Mairead Quinn: Our Doggy Superheroes

by - 4 April, 2014

April  is Autism Awareness Month but we’re aware of Autism 365 days a year in our house. Our hom...[...]

Noel Quigley: Our lovely daughter with Autism

by - 3 April, 2014

Following on from his recent article on his son with Aspergers, Noel, an AsiAm.ie board member, w...[...]

Lisa Domican: A is for Acceptance

by - 2 April, 2014

Lisa Domican is a mother of 2 children (Grace and Liam, pictured) on the Autism Spectrum and a so...[...]

Carrie Burton: Autism has made us who we are

by - 2 April, 2014

Regular blogger, Carrie Burton, talks about how Autism has challenged, but also strengthened, her...[...]

Asperger’s Story – Noel Quigley

by - 1 April, 2014

Noel Quigley is a Board Member of AsIAm.ie - here he shares his experiences of raising a son with...[...]

Dr Aoife Lyons: Things students with Autism or ADHD would like their teachers to know

by - 23 March, 2014

Dr Aoife Lyons, licensed clinical psychologist and university lecturer in UCD and DCU, puts herse...[...]

Planes, Asperger Syndrome, and Airports

by - 8 January, 2014

Introduction My name is Sean Foley. I am 25 years old and I have Asperger Syndrome – an autistic...[...]

Travels with my Aspergers Syndrome

by - 7 January, 2014

In 2013 I had more travel experiences than in any year gone by in my 25 years on the planet. Most...[...]

Ann Kennedy: The challenges of growing up undiagnosed

by - 2 May, 2013

Ann Kennedy is a 60 year old lady living with Asperger's Syndrome. In this incredibly honest pie...[...]

Carrie Burton: Communion Day – The Day We Thought We’d Never See!

by - 1 May, 2013

In this article our regular contributor, Carrie Burton, shares her experiences of preparing her d...[...]

Mother’s Day: Susan Browne – Amazing Brains

by - 10 March, 2013

Today is Mother's Day and we want to celebrate and support all those brilliant Mum's of children ...[...]

Keith Young – Life at Camp Akeela

by - 22 February, 2013

Keith Young, is a PhD student in the Department of Education and Professional Studies at the Univ...[...]

Interview: Sensodyne Dentist of the Year, Dr. Gillian Smith

by - 14 February, 2013

Today we finally got an opportunity to catch up with Dr. Gillian Smith, Founder and Principal Pr...[...]

Carrie Burton – Living with Autism

by - 30 January, 2013

My daughter Mia has Aspergers. She is 8 and was first diagnosed when she was 4. It has been a lon...[...]

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