Posted on 14th October 2020

Dublin City University launches the Autism&Uni toolkit

Fiona Earley, Autism Friendly University Coordinator at Dublin City University, explains why and how she adopted the Autism&Uni toolkit.

Dublin City University was recognised as an autism-friendly university by AsIAm, Ireland’s National Autism Charity and Advocacy Organisation, in 2017. The designation marked the conclusion of an 18-month research project.

Research findings by DCU showed that autistic students in third-level often experience greater levels of difficulty settling in and adapting to university life than do their peers. Frequently cited issues were discomfort in noisy environments; difficulties in managing schedules, deadlines and workload, challenges in participating in group work and unease in new social situations and extracurricular activities. To achieve the autism-friendly university designation, DCU must address eight generic principles that were established as part of the research study. To read the full report click here. One of the principles is:

Encourage and enable autistic students to transition and participate in university programmes;

So the opportunity to participate in the Autism&Uni project was a timely one as it specifically addressed transition. We had created a lot of resources which were on our main webpage, but the volume of information can make it difficult to filter.

The structure of the Autism&Uni toolkit is clear and concise. It really helped us collate information specific to new students in an autism-friendly way. It highlighted gaps in our information and also information duplication. The pages “student voices” and “professional interviews” were particularly welcomed by us as we have a strong autistic student voice in DCU. We used video and transcript to get student and staff perspectives from the NeuroDSoc and This is something we will continue to develop.

As we worked through the template and sample content provided with the Autism&Uni toolkit, we found it addressed the cited issues for autistic students in the initial DCU research findings (see “Living with Autism as a University Student at Dublin City University: Developing an Autism Friendly University“.  A fundamental value of the DCU project is that universities which are autism-friendly are understanding of the needs of autistic students, open to making adaptations to be more accessible and have a positive, celebratory culture towards autism.  The Autism and Uni project aligns with this value and we welcome the toolkit as a resource to build on.

Fiona Earley
Autism Friendly University Coordinator
Dublin City University




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