AsIAm, Ireland’s Autism Charity, has today launched a new report providing unique insights from the autistic community in Ireland. The report provides a summary of insights from 1,600 autistic people, parents, family members and carers. It covers a range of topics including education, healthcare, housing, life in the community, safety and the cost of living.
The headlines make for stark reading. 86% of respondents do not believe they have the same chance in Irish society, 90% do not think the Irish public understands enough about autism and 91% believe that being autistic is a barrier to being accepted and making friends.
- 61% don’t believe the education system is inclusive
- 75% don’t believe the healthcare system is inclusive
- 68% are on waiting lists to access services
- 38% believe they have experienced discrimination in the past 12 months
- 81% report that being autistic makes the cost of living crisis worse
The majority of responses relate to children (70%) while autistic adults, aged over 18 represented (30%) of responses.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Adam Harris, CEO of AsIAm, said;
” Depriving autistic people of the same chance does not just have devastating consequences on the at least 3.3% of people in Ireland who are autistic. It also represents a loss of diversity, talent and perspective for Irish society as a whole.
“This report provides a very depressing landscape of Autistic people who want the same chance to live long, healthy and happy lives. No more, no less. It is important that inclusion is not defined merely as access to services such as education or healthcare. It is about public transport, the workplace, and life in the community in a much broader sense. Autistic people will only enjoy equality in Irish life if we live in communities which are informed, accepting and affirming of our community. Yes, there has been progress in some areas, but there is so much work still to be done.
“We look forward to hear the Government’s response in the upcoming Oireachtas Committee on Autism and the Minister’s Strategy for autism.”
Participants were asked to comment on their own experiences as part of the report. Here are some of the verbatims:
- “I wish they knew how difficult simple tasks are, like going to the shops, finding a school place, participating in community activities like sports.”
- “Just because I excel in work doesn’t mean I don’t need supports in other areas of my life.”
- “Being autistic is different for everyone especially for women and girls. Also what masking is. I seem fine sometimes so they think that I’m like that all the time.”
- “I wish everyone knew how hard I am trying every day to fit in, to be accepted, to have people like me and feel like I am valued as a member of the community. I feel people view a diagnosis, in particular an adult diagnosis of autism as ‘an excuse’ or ‘being lazy’.”
- “It’s not something to be wary of, just allow us, be us.”
- “Be our friend or partner. Don’t walk through us like we dont exist. Stop treating us like we are invisible.”
- “Invite us, include us.”
- “Left out of birthday parties and sports. In school they are in an Autism class but want to spend more time in a mainstream class but their school won’t allow this. We are trying to get him into his mainstream class more by highlighting the environmental changes that are needed but this is ongoing. His sister is able to remain in mainstream with access to the autism class if and when she needs it so we know school can accommodate this.”
Same Chance Campaign
The event marks the launch of the of the Same Chance Campaign which takes place across the month of April. It is an invitation for the general public to engage and learn more about autism in order to remove day to day barriers experienced by autistic people.
Across the month, the charity will be running a series of vents and fundraiser to provide the public with opportunities to learn more and to donate and support AsIAm work which directly supports autistic children and adults across Ireland.
Sunday is World Autism Day. AsIAm is hosting a 5km fundraising walk at Belmont Demesne at 1100 on Sunday 2nd April. Everyone is welcome.
This year alone the charity needs to raise €2 million to support its current activities. AsIAm has an ambition to directly support 25,000 autistic people and families by 2025.
You can donate today at www.asiam.ie/donate