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Public perceptions fall short of societal aspirations for autistic people in Ireland

New data underscores huge gaps in creating the ‘Same Chance’

AsIAm, Ireland’s Autism Charity, has today launched its annual Same Chance Report providing unique insights from the perspectives of both the autistic community and the Irish public. The survey covers a range of topics including education, healthcare, housing, life in the community, safety and the cost of living.  It is the most comprehensive report into Autism in Ireland as the insights have been collected from 1,700 autistic people, parents, family members and carers together with the views of 1,000 member of the public.  

The Autism in Ireland survey of public attitudes highlights the contradictions between the public’s aspirations for inclusion in Irish society that is reflected by the desire for legislative supports within the next Programme for Government (88%) juxtaposed against the responses given when presented with real life scenarios across various aspects of life including the workplace, social gatherings and education.  


While the majority (80%) of the public believe that life should be inclusive, 57% feel that if someone can’t sit still or stay quiet in the cinema or theatre, they shouldn’t go. 48% would feel a bit uncomfortable if they saw an adult pacing or rocking back and forth in a public place.  

Socialising and Communicating Clearly

While four out of five people want everyone to feel comfortable in the workplace, 45% would find it ‘over the top’ to have a work colleague ask for a picture of a meeting room in advance and 55% said it would be annoying if people expected every detail to be outlined before they accepted a social invitation.

While almost everyone believes in clear communications, nearly 60% would feel uncomfortable interacting with someone who avoid eye contact. 20% would be offended if someone they were talking to was very direct in what they said and 35% would find it unprofessional if a colleague asked me to email them instead of talking to them via phone or in person.  

Adam Harris, CEO of AsIAm, said “This year’s report highlights the huge gaps between the aspirations that the Irish public have towards the autistic community and harsh realities that autistic people live with each and every day when engaging with all aspects of life in Ireland.  

“While it is encouraging to see aspirations for greater inclusion continue to grow, the lived experiences for so many of our members do not match those aspirations. Moreover, Government policy does not support the Autistic community. Much much more needs to be done to genuinely see real improvement in the lives of autistic people throughout Ireland.”

Signs of Progress

It is important to recognise areas of progress and a societal willingness to be inclusive.  The vast majority of the public (80%) believe life in Ireland should be inclusive. The is aided by the fact that more than half of people know an Autistic persons.  

Three quarters of the public feel children should be helped as opposed to punished if they become stressed in a classroom. 80% of people want everyone to be comfortable in work and comfortable in family occasions and four out of five people are aware of autism as a diagnosis.  

However, the lived experiences of Autistic people remain very different when speaking to Autistic people. This year’s survey of AsIAm members found:  

  • 51% don’t believe the education system is inclusive  
  • 29% of Autistic children experienced a reduced school timetable without the consent of the parent
  • 71% don’t believe the healthcare system is inclusive  
  • 60% are on waiting lists to access services  
  • 53% accessed their diagnosis privately.  
  • 36% believe they have experienced discrimination in the past 12 months  
  • 74% report that being autistic makes the cost of living crisis worse  

Today’s report coincides with the start of World Autism Month and forms part of the ongoing activity to support AsIAm as it marks the 10th anniversary of the charity throughout 2024.

AsIAm will be hosting a range of events throughout April, starting with a 5km fundraising walk at Belmont Desmesne at 11:00 on Sunday 7nd April. Everyone is welcome. Visit our page and register for a great event while space is available.  

For more information, please contact:  

Paul Bradley, FleishmanHillard +353 851744281

Astrid Brennan, FleishmanHillard +353 862154883

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