South Dublin students mark World Autism Month

by Rachel Cunningham
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Students from South County Dublin attended a special meeting of Autistic young people at the office of Ombudsman for Children in Dublin last week. 

As part of AsIAm’s youth leadership team, Max Duma from Dundrum, Isabella Blum from Dún Laoghaire and Emily Mullick from Clonskeagh also shared their realities and hopes for the future with Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon. 

April is World Autism Month and the event coincided with AsIAm’s annual Same Chance Report, which provides unique insights from the perspectives of both the autistic community and the Irish public. 

The survey covered a range of topics including education, healthcare, housing, life in the community, safety and the cost of living.  

It is the most comprehensive report into Autism in Ireland, with collected insights from 1,700 autistic people, parents, family members and carers and the views of 1,000 members of the public. 

Pictured on World Autism Day is Adam Harris, CEO, AsIAm, and Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children at a special meeting of Autistic young people from AsIAm’s youth leadership team. Photograph: Photocall Ireland

The survey highlights the contradictions between the public’s aspirations for inclusion in Irish society juxtaposed against the responses given when presented with real life scenarios across the workplace, social gatherings and education.

While 80 per cent of the public believe that life should be inclusive, 57 per cent feel that if someone can’t sit still or stay quiet in the cinema or theatre, they shouldn’t go. 

Four out of five people want everyone to feel comfortable in the workplace but 45 per cent would find it ‘over the top’ to have a work colleague ask for a picture of a meeting room in advance and 55 per cent said it would be annoying if people expected every detail to be outlined before they accepted a social invitation.

Almost 60 per cent said they would feel uncomfortable interacting with someone who avoids eye contact,.

Twenty per cent said they would be offended if someone they were talking to was very direct in what they said, while 35 per cent said they would find it unprofessional if a colleague asked them to email instead of talking to them on phone or in person.

“This year’s report highlights the huge gaps between the aspirations that the Irish public have towards the autistic community and harsh realities that autistic people live with each and every day when engaging with all aspects of life in Ireland,” said Adam Harris, CEO of AsIAm.

“While it is encouraging to see aspirations for greater inclusion continue to grow, the lived experiences for so many of our members do not match those aspirations. 

“Moreover, government policy does not support the Autistic community. Much much more needs to be done to genuinely see real improvement in the lives of autistic people throughout Ireland.”

As part of AsIAm’s youth leadership team, Max Duma from Dundrum, along with other representatives, shared his realities and hopes for the future with Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon   

Photos: Photocall Ireland

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