AsIAm Submissions to Government

This section hosts our most recent submissions to the Irish Government as part of our National Advocacy work on behalf of our community.

Children and Early Years

Every Child Counts Report shows two-thirds of respondents are dissatisfied with HSE services and 40% said that their autistic children lost key skills during the pandemic

The report is a quantitative analysis capturing the experiences and opinions of the many families in Ireland who have an autistic child and seeks to capture the voices of the autism community in accessing support and services from the Health Service Executive (HSE).

While AsIAm received considerable engagement with this study – with 454 responses to an online questionnaire – we would qualify, from the outset, that these findings are only a snapshot of a problem on a much larger scale.

Every Child Counts exclusively focuses on experiences with public healthcare access, support, and services and is the first such survey for AsIAm’s Community Support Team. Key findings include:

   Two-thirds of parents and guardians surveyed have had to wait two years or more to receive an autism diagnosis for their child.

•   Over half felt very dissatisfied with the HSE support services for their autistic children. 

•   Almost four in five said that they were not receiving any support from either the Early Intervention or School-Age Going Teams.

You can download the report here or read it in full below.


Pre-Budget Submissions

On Tuesday 10th October 2023, the Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath,
and the Minister for Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform, Paschal
Donohue, published the Government’s Budget for 2024. This was framed as a
‘step change in planning for the future’ in terms of buttressing public
finances against potential economic shocks and in planning for future
economic stability, whilst also continuing increases in public spending, with
the overall package of supports totalling €14 billion.

From AsIAm’s perspective, whilst there are quite a few welcome measures,
including some very welcome and necessary spending in areas of education,
health, employment supports, and in tackling child poverty, we believe that
there were also missed opportunities to deliver both the types of targeted
financial supports which would meaningfully address the level of exclusion,
poverty, and the lack of opportunity which many among the 1 in 27 Autistic
people in Irish society still face

Budget 2024 Analysis

The theme of this year’s AsIAm Pre-Budget Submission is on ‘Investing in Creating the Same Chance for Ireland’s Autism Community’, reflecting the everyday living experiences of Autistic people and the wider community living in Irish society, working towards an ambitious vision on what a more accessible and accepting society looks like.

This is why a core request from AsIAm in our Pre-Budget Submission for 2024 is for greater investment, to realise the full implementation of the Final Report from the Oireachtas Autism Committee, including both immediate and medium-term actions to better support our diverse community.

Budget 2024 presents an opportunity for greater investment in reducing social and economic barriers.

Our recommendations reflect this overarching vision expressed to us by our community and outlined in the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Autism’s Final Report. Implementing our recommendations would make real progress towards creating a more accepting and inclusive society which supports Ireland’s autism community.

Read the full submission here

On 27th September 2022, the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohue TD and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, published Budget for 2023. This was framed as a Cost-of-Living Budget, and contains a significant package of measures totalling €11.3 billion. The main aim of the Budget was to protect citizens against the sharpest consequences of the rise in inflation that Ireland and many other countries around the world are experiencing.  

As one of the larger Budgets in recent years, the scale of this year’s measures reflects the reality that many people in Irish society are experiencing significant levels of financial hardship, particularly in recent months. It also aimed to continue with longer-term investment into essential public services such as education and health which has been a re-occurring theme over the last number of Budgets. 



Autistic people and families across Ireland have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the sharp rise in inflation and the cost of living. These social and economic barriers dominate many aspects of life as an Autistic person in Irish society and leave many in our community, particularly those on low and middle incomes, to experience isolation, social exclusion, poverty and lack of access to supports.

AsIAm believes that Budget 2023 presents an opportunity for the Government to both mitigate the hardship in our community and grasp the opportunity to create a more inclusive and just society where everyone can participate and live a happy, healthy life. From a lack of appropriate school places, additional costs of living with a disability, lower incomes, to barriers to accessing employment and accessing social opportunities,  Autistic people have been living under pressure for many years, and our submission outlines the need for urgent action.

Read our submission below or download it here

As the country steadily exits the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to invest in supports for our most vulnerable citizens to help them with the transition back to normality. Autistic people and their families right across Ireland have been disproportionately impacted by the disruptions caused by the pandemic over the past seventeen months. 

AsIAm are putting a range of proposals to government in this submission, the proposals are centered around the fundamental need to unlock the potential of autistic people as we begin our recovery from the pandemic.

Key ways which AsIAm believes the Government can achieve this drive for truly inclusive and equitable access to services include:

•     Invest in the Autism Innovation Strategy’s creation and implementation, with a view to accelerate its development and rollout over the next twelve months.

•     Invest €2.8 million to hire 100 additional caseworkers to support Early Intervention and School Age Teams for autistic children’s referrals around the country.

•     Invest €14.5 million to reduce class sizes by one pupil, with a view to incrementally reducing their size in line with the European average of twenty pupils to one teacher over the next five years. 

•     Introduce a Cost of Disability payment, closely linked to the Disability Allowance payment, adjusted for contemporary rates of inflation.

•     Provide an additional €3.4 million for the hiring of 126 job coaches within regional Intreo Offices, trained in best practices for engaging with and supporting both autistic jobseekers and jobseekers with other disabilities.

•     Invest €700,000 into the Autism Community Fund’s development and delivery from the Dormant Accounts Fund to support community initiatives to address the isolation epidemic facing autistic people across the country.

To read our submission in full, see below or download it here

For the Easy to Read version, view and download it here.

The New Challenges, Key Priorities: AsIAm’s Proposals for the Irish Budget 2021 document states the key priorities we would like to see in Government spending in the 2021 budget. In these spending proposals, we set out key priorities in the areas of; Education, Healthcare, Social Protection, Equality and Employment, which would ultimately benefit the Autism community. Read it in full below or download it here.

AsIAm launched our spending proposals this week for Budget 2020, with a clear message to the Government that greater investment is crucial to deliver meaningful inclusion and accessibility to services for autistic people.

Our proposals include autism-proofing public services and ensuring parity of access; building the autism community’s agency through proper State investment; and empowering autistic citizens and their families to exercise full choice over the supports that they feel best meet their needs.

Speaking at this week’s launch, AsIAm’s Chief Executive Officer Adam Harris said: “AsIAm has, for well over the past twelve months, consistently engaged with representatives and parties from right across the political divide in Leinster House. A growing consensus is emerging that this is not only an issue of education and healthcare, but also an issue of fundamental rights and equality.

“Autism is a spectrum that affects those on it on a whole-of-life basis – as such, it makes sense for us to approach it from a whole-of-life perspective. Pidgeon-holing it into only one or two policy areas only risks dangerously simplifying what is a complex neurodevelopmental condition.

“Our proposals outline a series of steps Government Departments can take to ensure authentic autism empowerment as a part of a coordinated and planned-out approach. These include:

  • €10million to develop a National training programme to be rolled-out for all mainstream teachers on inclusive education and best practices for engaging with autism within school settings;
  • €0.8million for an independent review of the availability and quality of autism class and special school placements and their appropriate resourcing;
  • €50million for the development and roll-out of the promised HSE Autism Strategy;
  • €2 million be provided to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to develop an appropriate, timely clinical pathway for young autistic people in mental health crises;
  • An additional €20 a week should be allocated to those in receipt of Disability Allowance;
  • Increase public awareness of current Workplace Supports available from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP), including the Wage Subsidy Scheme, the Workplace Equipment Adaption Grant and the Reasonable Accommodation Fund;
  • Mandate all State bodies to work towards hiring more autistic employees, in line with the incremental target of at least 6% by 2024 envisaged within the Comprehensive Employment Strategy.

Read the document in full below or download it here.

Justice And Equality

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an international human rights treaty, which was adopted by the United Nations in 2006. The UNCRPD sets out what countries need to do to ensure that people with disabilities (including autism) can exercise their human rights on a full and equal basis as everyone else. It is the first international human rights treaty of the 21st century, and disabled people were engaged and actively involved in its drafting, consultation and negotiation. To date, over 182 countries have ratified the Convention, along with the EU in 2010, meaning that they have signed onto the Treaty and agreed to make it part of their laws. It was officially ratified by Ireland in 2018.  

The UNCRPD makes sure that disabled people, who comprise over 20% of the world’s population and 13.5% of the population in Ireland, have access to the same rights as their non-disabled peers. It covers a wide range of areas where disabled people are discriminated against on a daily basis. The Convention should be used as a planning framework for both disability-specific laws and policies and for ensuring all laws are developed with disability in mind. As a result, the Convention emphasizes that every issue is a disability rights issue, and that disability rights issues are everybody’s issues. 

The UN Convention does not create any new rights, but it is really important for disabled people as it outlines the many steps necessary to ensure people with disabilities are included and engaged within their society, including how to proactively combat discrimination. 

Since the UNCRPD highlights the importance of lived experience and an overall shift towards the social model of disability instead of medical, it is an important resource for autism-friendly best practice. Countries who have signed onto the Convention must therefore consult with disabled people and their representative organizations (such as AsIAm, Down Syndrome Ireland and Inclusion Ireland) when developing laws and policies that impact the lives of disabled people.

For more information download the explainer or read it in full below:

AsIAm welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice on the subject of “Courts and Courthouses”. As Ireland’s National Autism Charity, we see the impact that access to justice has on the autistic community, which comprises at least one in 65 people, along with their families and supporters. 

The courts’ system/structure can often be a complex and oftentimes arduous and intimidating process for anyone, but it can be particularly daunting and overwhelming for autistic people. It has a real and substantial impact on our community’s ability to access justice in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and to fully exercise and vindicate their rights as Irish citizens. 

Download our submission here or read it below

Imagine having your capacity to make decisions, sign contracts, vote, defend yourself legally, choose supports or even medical treatment taken away simply because of your diagnosis. For many persons with disabilities, constant threat, and the consequences can be grave. Guardians may fail to act in their best interests through errors in judgement, or worse, may actively abuse their power.  Article 12 of the UNCRPD recognizes “that persons with disabilities have legal capacity on an equal basis with others. In other words, an individual cannot lose his/her legal capacity to act simply because of a disability.”

Depending on the person’s support needs, they may require assistance to make decisions beneficial for their health, wellbeing and dignity under the law. This may be through one trusted person or a network of people. Ireland is still developing an appropriate framework for assisted decision-making and AsIAm’s submission to the Oireachtas Committee aims to address the current model and offer constructive changes.

Download our submission here or read it in its entirety below. 

A national strategy to empower autistic people and their families nationwide remains AsIAm’s largest policy goal and the government’s proposed Autism Innovation Strategy represents the next step towards that goal. AsIAm and other advocacy groups are consulting with a newly formed Joint Oireachtas Committee to ensure the strategy is developed with community voices in mind.

You can read our submission to the committee in full below or download it here.

On Wednesday 14th June 2023, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Autism published its final report into its work

Download the explainer here

The way in which Disabled people interact with the criminal justice system can be different to those who do not have a disability. Research shows Autistic people are far less likely to report crime, but that they are more likely to be the victims of crime than those who do not have a disability. This strategic plan provides an opportunity for An Garda Síochána to engage with disability led organisations in supporting and assisting the Autistic community in its pursuit to mitigate crimes against vulnerable communities such as the Autistic community, as well as empower them to engage with the criminal justice system where appropriate, be it as a witness or victim of a crime.

Download the submission here

AsIAm sent a submission to the National Disability Authority on the new National Disability Strategy that the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth are working on. This new Strategy will succeed the National Disability Inclusion Strategy. 

In our submission, we highlight that the following issues need to be included or facilitated by the new National Disability Strategy:

-Ratifying the UNCRPD optional protocol

-Fully implementing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Autism’s Final Report recommendations

-Introducing an Autism Innovation Strategy on a legislative level which grants our statutory protection

-Ensuring that Public Sector Duty obligations are universally applied across all State and Government Departments and Agencies

-Fully implementing our recommendations set out in our EPSEN submissions

To read the submission in full, click here

AsIAm is delighted to send a written submission to the National Disability Authority (NDA) to support their development of their new Strategic Plan 2025-2027. Our submission details how the policy and engagement work the NDA does matches Ireland’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, connecting its policy advice it gives to Government closer to the rights of Autistic people and Disabled people, and how it can support Autistic people who would like to be more involved in policy development.

Read the submission here


AsIAm received the findings from RTÉ Prime Time Investigates into the Department of Health’s covert legal strategy with dismay. 

We made a detailed submission to Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health, as part of its formal investigation into the programme’s allegations and wider review around the Department’s conduct.

Download the submission here 

Autistic people are at a significantly higher risk of bullying and harassment than their neurotypical peers. These experiences, combined with heightened levels of anxiety in the autistic community, means that bullying is likely to have an adverse effect on the mental health of autistic pupils in the school system. AsIAm’s submission to the Joint Sub-Committee on Mental Health aims to suggests constructive approaches to address this.

To download the submission click here or read it in full below.

Every Child Counts Report shows two-thirds of respondents are dissatisfied with HSE services and 40% said that their autistic children lost key skills during the pandemic

The report is a quantitative analysis capturing the experiences and opinions of the many families in Ireland who have an autistic child and seeks to capture the voices of the autism community in accessing support and services from the Health Service Executive (HSE).

While AsIAm received considerable engagement with this study – with 454 responses to an online questionnaire – we would qualify, from the outset, that these findings are only a snapshot of a problem on a much larger scale.

Every Child Counts exclusively focuses on experiences with public healthcare access, support, and services and is the first such survey for AsIAm’s Community Support Team. Key findings include:

•   Two-thirds of parents and guardians surveyed have had to wait two years or more to receive an autism diagnosis for their child.

•   Over half felt very dissatisfied with the HSE support services for their autistic children. 

•   Almost four in five said that they were not receiving any support from either the Early Intervention or School-Age Going Teams.

You can download the report here or read it in full below.

Employment and Social Protection

Remote working plays a key role in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; it also presents several benefits to the autistic community and its continuing struggles within the world of work. 

Autistic people often struggle with unpredictability, breaks in routine and different sensory environments. Remote working’s controlled environment provides new opportunities for workers on the spectrum to unlock their full potential as employees.

As many as 80% to 85% of autistic people are unemployed or underemployed. This is due to a combination of poor or non existent workplace supports or inadequate recruitment processes preventing them from finding and keeping their desired jobs. This stands in contrast to Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which states every disabled citizen has the right to work and be supported by the State to find and retain employment.

Moreover, given the potential benefits remote working can have on both employees and businesses seeking to attract the best talent, autistic people need to participate and be included in these conversations. 

AsIAm is keen to contribute towards our economic recovery by playing a proactive role in shaping future employment policy, by providing assistance for autistic adults to get more involved in the workforce and becoming future leaders in our own right.

We feel that the full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities in the realm of policy and legislation will contribute remote working practices will appropriately address our community’s diverse needs. 

Read our submission to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Business below or download it here

Nine out of ten autistic people in Ireland believe it is harder to find work compared to a non-autistic person.

AsIAm’s and’s Autism in the Workplace report surveys both employers and members of the autistic community on their differing experiences and perceptions of autism within the Irish workplace.

According to its findings, almost four in five autistic people in Ireland face barriers to getting the job they want, with 72% citing that having to ‘mask’ or hide their autistic traits to fit in with colleagues as one of the main barriers to finding the right role.

The report suggests a clear lack of understanding of autism on the part of employers, making it even more difficult for autistic employees to disclose their diagnosis

It found that three in four employers (75%) feel that their organisation’s staff do not know enough about autism to support an autistic colleague. 76% of organisations lack a dedicated autism-friendly workplace policy.

To read the report in full, click here.

AsIAm welcomes the opportunity to engage with the Department of Social Protection on their review of the Reasonable Accommodation Fund. The Reasonable Accommodation Fund plays a significant role in supporting disabled people and Autistic people in securing employment.

Autistic people, like many cohorts of disabled people and other marginalised communities, are particularly underserved and excluded from the Irish labour market, and this bears out with the dismal statistics surrounding employment and disability in Ireland. Autistic people and people with intellectual disabilities are particularly underserved from the labour market – over 80% of Autistic people are unemployed or underemployed.

Through our extensive engagement with the community highlighted in the Autism in the Workplace Report, the Same Chance Toolkit and Same Chance Report 2022 many Autistic people expressed a desire to find employment- feeling that work, particularly in a role that matches their skills or interests, can provide a greater sense of dignity, purpose and independence in their lives. However, many Autistic people also believe that there are extensive and significant barriers to finding a job and to accessing reasonable accommodations at work. On a related note, the community felt that there were insufficient resources for supporting them in continued employment after securing a suitable job. Our submission lays out issues with the current Fund and suggested actions for the Department of Social Protection to ensure autistic people nationwide are supported in reaching their full potential. Read it in full here

AsIAm welcomes the opportunity to engage with the Department of Social
Protection on their review of Jobseeker’s benefits and their intention to introduce a
Pay-Related Jobseekers’ Payment. Many Autistic people who are experiencing
unemployment receive payments such as the Jobseekers’ Benefit and Jobseekers’
Allowance, and the situations they find themselves can cause a great deal of anxiety
and distress. This review is an opportunity to ensure that the most marginalised
cohorts in society, such as disabled people and Autistic family carers, are not
disadvantaged by changes made to the system.

Equality-proofing and disabilityproofing is a key part of this process to ensure that pitfalls which can potentially
cause further hardship to the most marginalised are avoided, and that people do not
sink deeper into poverty, isolation and exclusion. Read the submission in full here


The following outlines the findings from a survey undertaken by AsIAm in 2019 which uncovered significant rates of school absence and withdrawal within the autism community.

Executive Summary & Key Findings 
We commissioned two surveys among stakeholders right across school communities in the country on the topic of School Absence and Withdrawal. In doing so, we aimed to compile an informed picture of the situation facing autistic students of all ages and their families on a national  level. The first survey sought to explore the issues involved with securing a school place for an autistic pupil, ranging from their age group and current enrolment to what were the main obstacles encountered whilst applying for a place.

The second survey concerned itself with expulsions and extended absences, examining the complications arising for families whose children were experiencing  complications in their educational and personal development. Among its questions, the survey inquired what the main reasons for pupils’ exclusion were, their families’ engagement with their local Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENO) and  whether or not the families were receiving support from social services. Stakeholders identified and engaged with throughout the process were chiefly composed of autistic pupils themselves and their family members.
We found that: 

  • 54% of those families seeking a school placement said that their children were  due to enrol at a primary school;
  • 48% said that a mainstream school with an autism class was the  recommended setting for their autistic child’s education;
  • 35% said that they had applied to anywhere between four and seven different  schools whilst seeking a place for their child;
  • 54% felt that a lack of school places was the biggest barrier for their child in  accessing education, supported by a further 18% saying that their chief  obstacle was a lack of nearby schools or classes in their local catchment areas;
  • 80% of respondents who were seeking a school place reported engaging with  their local SENO to 20% who had not; for those whose child(ren) were expelled  or experiencing exclusion, this gap considerably narrowed, with 56% and 44%  reporting engagement and a lack of engagement with their SENO  respectively;
  • A range of varying school attendance rates were reported, with 17% of families  saying that their child attends school on a reduced timetable contrasting with  13% who reported as long as three years’ worth of absence from school for  their child;
  • 54% of those families whose child(ren) were experiencing exclusion or  extended absences from school were secondary school-aged, compared to  41% at primary level;
  • 91% of respondents whose child(re) were experiencing exclusion or extended  absence from school said they were presently receiving no support from Tusla;
  • 66% reported that anxiety was the main reason why their child(ren) were  experiencing exclusion or an extended absence from school, followed by 52%  who believed that a lack of knowledge and understanding of autism was their  main reason, as well as 34% who cited inadequate supports currently available  in schools.

The report can be read in full below or downloaded here

In 2019, AsIAm submitted a detailed policy submission outlining our views on facilitating greater inclusion within Irish schools. It looked at whether we should continue providing special schools and classes for autistic students, or if an accelerated push towards full inclusion into mainstream settings would be in their best interests.

Ireland’s ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2018 (UNCRPD), a document which includes the state’s obligation to “ensure an inclusive education system at all levels” for citizens living with disabilities.

AsIAm wishes for every school to work towards being inclusive of all children children. We believe that special classes and schools present a more inclusive option for some children, for whom mainstream settings have not been resourced to support.

The Education for Persons with Special Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004 legally protects autistic children’s right to be supported and included in mainstream schools. Indeed, a large proportion of our community are educated alongside their neurotypical classmates. 

Major gaps continue to persist however, in terms of getting school places, timely needs assessments and appropriate teacher training.

To learn more about AsIAm’s proposals for inclusive education, download the report here or read it below.

Families during COVID-19

A survey conducted by three of the leading disability advocacy organisations in the State: Inclusion Ireland, Down Syndrome Ireland and AsIAm, has found that whilst children with additional needs are benefiting from the return to school, there have been new challenges, particularly around accessing support and being included in schools.

Parents surveyed, reported that many young people attending special classes were not receiving opportunities to participate in mainstream, owing to social distancing requirements, or had been placed on reduced timetables.

382 answered the survey which ran across the three organisations’ websites and social media platforms. Amongst the key findings, parents reported that:

•    41% stated their child needs more SNA support;
•    30% said that reintegrating into regular routines and school settings is their biggest challenge since return;
•    33% of remain unsatisfied with their children’s present educational provision, and;
•    79% of respondents to our survey stated that children would need in-school support to continue their learning, in the event of future school closures.

•   Huge majority of parents want school provision for those with additional needs in the event of another lockdown

For the report in its entirety click here

Ireland’s National Autism Charity calls for Special Education Reform through Review and Implementation of EPSEN Act

Developing and delivering a truly inclusive education system is one of AsIAm’s core aims as Ireland’s national autism charity.

We’ve made huge strides in recent decades towards this goal in Ireland and passing the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act in 2004 was a milestone on this journey. It set out a comprehensive set of supports for autistic pupils and their families, as well as important mechanisms of vindicating these entitlements.

Over fifteen years on however, despite EPSEN being a positive step for special education reform, many of the Act’s key provisions remain uncommented. These include:

  Granting Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and their regular review a statutory basis.

  Schools’ designations.

  Establishing a formal Special Appeals Board for assessments.

In April 2021, AsIAm appeared before a roundtable hearing of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science on the EPSEN Act’s future. There, we set out our analysis of the current state of play around special education’s provision for our community’s young people, as well as our proposals for how to vindicate their constitutional rights.

You can read our submission to the Joint Committee here surmising why we believe EPSEN needs reformed and implemented.

Check here for more information on education rights and autism

AsIAm welcomes the opportunity to contribute to developing the next iteration of the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education. It is our ambition that this new strategy broadens its scope to proactively address the many barriers to accessing third level opportunities for an often-overlooked cohort of the student population.

As Ireland’s national autism charity, our organisation has consistently campaigned for greater, tailored supports for autistic students studying at both further and higher levels of education, as well as building greater awareness of autism as a spectrum condition amongst institutions’ academic and support staff; our Autism-Friendly Universities Programme is AsIAm’s flagship project in this regard.

As a whole-of-life condition, it is only appropriate that equally wide-ranging and tailored assistance is given to prospective students on the autism spectrum. Significant investment into the Plan from its first interaction in 2015 has generated a solid foundation for the Department to develop a wide-ranging framework going forward. 

In our submission to the Department of Further and Higher Education’s public consultation, AsIAm has outlined our proposals of how we envisage the next National Plan might provide opportunities and tailored supports for autistic students – not only make the most of their individual potential, but also enable them to realise their dreams and ambitions as full and equal members of society. The submission can be read in full here.

Key Recommendations:

   Include autistic people as an explicit cohort within targeted under-represented groups as a subcategory of students with disabilities within the next National Access Plan for 2022–2026.

   Initiate a formal data collection programme on autistic learners enrolled in higher education institutions to build a comprehensive picture of these students’ diverse profiles and inform future policy decisions.

   Implement a pilot autism training scheme with a sample of academic and support staff from institutes across Ireland, with a view to extending such training to all staff in the short to medium-term.

•   Streamline colleges’ and universities’ Disability Services support continuums into a uniform suite of comprehensive resources, so that autistic students around the country can avail of supports without discrepancy.

   Invest additional resources into providing remote learning supports for autistic students, specifically around greater access to assistive technology, upgrading students’ digital skills, and improving remote accessibility of college services to part-time/flexible learners.

   Remove the means-test requirement for families seeking to access the SUSI Grant for all students with disabilities and people who experience educational disadvantage, including autistic students.

AsIAm hopes the proposed reforms to the Leaving Certificate take steps to proactively and inclusively address the barriers to education that many autistic students experience, which can range from negative experiences at school, to unmet educational support needs, to added stress and anxiety around the examinations and assessment process. As Ireland’s National Autism Charity, we have observed the Leaving Certificate and its emphasis on rote learning has been a huge barrier for our community. 

Even without the enormous anxiety produced by students hoping to reach their desired points, the format of the exams often fail to grasp the unique strengths and differences in autistic students. We hope that as the Senior Cycle considers how state examinations ought to be conducted moving forward, that they consider adopting a flexible approach suited to neurodiverse learning styles. To read our submission in its entirety, read the document below or download it here. 

AsIAm is delighted to partake in the Department of Education’s review on the current School Transport Scheme. The School Transport Scheme is a program that many members of the autism community avail of and therefore we welcome the opportunity to make comment on this review.

Our submission touches on issues such as accessing transport hours from the SENO, the sensory impact of transport and the often overlooked role of the parent or guardian the decision making process. Our submission can be read in its entirety below or downloaded here

AsIAm welcomes the opportunity to engage with the Department of Social Protection in its Public Consultation
on the Wage Subsidy Scheme. Through our engagement with the autistic community, AsIAm finds that the Wage Subsidy Scheme yields a mixed picture in its ability to support autistic people. Whilst there are some among the community who are in employment because of this Scheme, our engagement with community members informs us that there are issues with the Scheme’s design which may have the consequence of hindering their opportunities for successfully obtaining employment in the open labour

For example, an issue relayed to us by the community the criteria being based on a percentage
reduction in productivity may not reflect an Autistic person’s experiences and their support needs at work. An
Autistic person may need to access accommodations, more time to process different tasks, to move between tasks, starting or finishing tasks, to regulate themselves or to have written or visual instructions, which cannot be quantified easily using a percentage standard of
productivity. It also benchmarks a disabled person or autistic person’s performance or productivity against
neurotypical norms or standards, and that it does not take into consideration that autistic burnout or autistic inertia may have.

You can read the submission in full here

AsIAm welcomes the opportunity to engage with the Department of Education in their
review of the Education for Persons with Special Education Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004.
Education is a core pillar of our work throughout the organisation, and AsIAm frequently
engages with the Department of Education, Ministers and their officials, families, and
stakeholders within the education system on issues facing Autistic pupils and their
families. This engagement with key stakeholders, culminated in our Green Paper for
EPSEN, which we published in 2021.

This is an opportunity to realise a more holistic vision for our education system that every pupil can access an education that meets their needs in their local community, and that nobody is excluded from their local school on the grounds of their diagnosis or support needs.

This submission will set out below what is working within the education system, the
structural and accessibility issues which significantly impact Autistic people and families’
experiences at school, and the reforms which AsIAm believes are necessary to ensure
that students can be educated in inclusive environments in line with our international
obligations and that schools and teachers are supported to realise this vision for inclusive
education for every pupil in their community.

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