Autism Friendly University

Across third level education, both in Ireland and internationally, an increasing number of higher education places are sought by students on the autism spectrum who wish to channel their passions and interests through college study. This number is continually growing. Despite this increase in student enrolment, only a small number of autistic students complete their education.

Cultivating an autism-friendly environment on campus can go a long way towards alleviating these challenges. How a University approaches being Autism Friendly makes a massive difference to Autistic students.

In 2018 Dublin City University (DCU) became the world’s first autism friendly university through a collaboration between DCU, AsIAm and Specialisterne Ireland. DCU’s designation as Autism Friendly marked the conclusion of an 18-month research project, led by Dr Mary Rose Sweeney (the summary of which can be read here.) Through this research, AsIAm and DCU developed the eight principles of an autism friendly university.

You can access our Autism Friendly University Principles and some FAQs here.

Please contact [email protected] for further information about receiving the AsIAm Autism Friendly University Award for you college or HEI.

What are the Autism Friendly University Principles?

autsim friendly university

Frequently Asked Questions

Some areas that can be challenging for autistic students are:

  • The transition into third level education
  • The social and physical environment
  • Academic challenges
  • Accessing the correct supports
  • Misconceptions and stigma associated with autism
  • Gaining and transitioning into employment

HEI’s are now placing a greater emphasis on ensuring that autistic students have more access to support services. To equip universities who wish to create this learning environment, AsIAm have developed the Autism Friendly University Award, which provides a common understanding and good practice in Third Level institutions. It is drawn from a range of evaluations, policy guidelines and best practice from Ireland, the UK and internationally.

Universities which attain the AsIAm Autism Friendly Award are understanding of the needs of autistic students, open to making adaptations to be more accessible and have a positive, celebratory culture towards autism. These universities will not only ensure autistic students can thrive while studying but also serve as a springboard to employment opportunities after study.

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