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23rd Mar 2018

DCU is on the way to becoming the first ‘autism-friendly’ university

Olivia Hayes

The university has already started making changes.

Dublin City University has vowed to implement changes which will see it becoming the first ‘autism-friendly’ university.

The decision was made after the university carried out a study which identified issued of discomfort for students with autism.

The research found that students with autism often experienced levels of difficulty with things such as settling in and adapting to university life.

Certain social situations and noisy environments were found to be anxiety-inducing for the students, as well as deadlines for assignments and work commitments being found extremely stressful.

Some found university life quite lonely, also.

But DCU is aiming to change all of that by implementing the AsIAm system.

This will see new measures such as a new society for students with autism, and a buddy system which means they won’t be alone in the first few weeks or months of university.

And as we all know as parents, knowing your child is looked after, no matter what age, is a relief (both for them and you).

Quiet spaces are also going to be introduced in numerous areas around the college grounds.

President Michael D. Higgins said that he was delighted to see DCU take much-needed steps to becoming a more welcoming place for members with autism.

“The increased focus we have witnessed on the needs of autistic children is positive and uplifting. We must remember, however, that those needs do not end at the school gate.

“Autistic children become Autistic adults who continue to have potential that must be nurtured, possibilities that need enabling, a voice that is entitled to be heard, and skills, talents and gifts that can enrich our society.

“The adult world, therefore, needs to be more welcoming towards autistic citizens, ensuring they receive the same opportunities to thrive and flourish as all their fellow citizens.”

All of the changes are hoped to be fully carried out by 2021.