Information For Parents, Guardians or Carers

These frequently asked questions will guide you through some common issues for parents, guardians and carers.

How do I get a diagnosis for my child?

The first priority for your autistic child should be getting a diagnosis. An autism diagnosis is necessary to access educational supports and therapeutic supports for your child. Diagnosis will typically be accompanied by a diagnostic report outlining recommended supports depending on the child’s support needs. Autism can be pursued publicly or privately. It can only be diagnosed by a psychologist, psychiatrist, developmental pediatrician or a child neurologist.  For more information on pursuing a diagnosis, click here.

How do I secure a school place for my child?

After diagnosis, the first priority for your child should be finding a school place for them. Given the diverse support needs of the autistic community, autistic children may attend special schools, autism classes within mainstream schools or mainstream classes with additional supports, which is discussed further here.

Bunreacht na hÉireann guarantees an education to each and every Irish citizen, regardless of their personal background and circumstances, a right which is backed up even further by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As such, you have a number of bodies to appeal to if your child’s needs are not being met as outlined here.


I’m confused about the terminology being used about autism.

It’s very understandable to get overwhelmed by the language used to describe autism and relevant supports as much of the information provided by autism is written in a medical context which may be difficult to understand, especially given the many acronyms used!

Check our glossary of terms here to learn more about various common phrases related to autism, educational supports and relevant professionals.


How can I help my child make friends?

It is common for autistic people of all ages to experience challenges in socializing. In order to facilitate your child making friends, first and foremost you must remember your child’s differences are not a deliberate attempt to push potential friends away. On a similar note, your child shouldn’t be encouraged to be someone they are not in order to make friends. This may sound obvious, but pushing an autistic child with no interest in sports to join their local football club may send the message that their own interests aren’t valid.

Supporting your child in making friends is a very possible and worthwhile activity, but should be done carefully. For information on how to negotiate this, check our page on friendships.

Should I be encouraging my autistic child to go to college? 

It’s important to remember that autistic children, just like any other child, all have different ambitions, interests and skills. Some autistic people will have no difficulties securing a place in a college or university setting but will struggle in transitioning to third-level education and the loss of regular routine that can bring. Other autistic people may struggle to get a college place due to difficulties with secondary-school education but can thrive after entering college through a PLC. Other autistic people may not want to enter third level education at all and prefer to pursue their interests and passions on their own terms. What’s important is not to consider autism as a fundamental barrier to entering third-level education.

The challenges your child may experience in third-level education will be more to do with adapting to a new environment and routine than their academic abilities. These issues aren’t to be dismissed, however, as studies have shown they may contribute to autistic college dropout rate. Our Autism Friendly University Award, beginning with DCU as the world’s first autism-friendly university, seeks to address these issues.

How can I support my child as they enter college?

The transition from second level to third level education can be an overwhelming and sometimes nerve wracking experience. The school environment can be challenging for some autistic people, they may feel exhausted or anxious coming home from school most days. If your child has felt like this, they might feel nervous about venturing further and beginning in third level education.

There are a number of strategies to make this process easier which can be seen here.

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