DCU: The World’s First Autism-Friendly University

DCU has become the world’s first designated autism-friendly university through a collaboration between DCU, AsIAm and Specialisterne Ireland (a specialist consultancy that recruits and supports people with Autism). But what does that mean?



DCU’s designation as Autism Friendly marks the conclusion of an 18-month research project, led by Dr Mary Rose along with AsIAm and Specialisterne Ireland. Following the research study, AsIAm worked closely with DCU to develop a series of eight principles that underpin the university’s purpose for its autistic students (which you can read below).

A full-time Autism Friendly University Co-ordinator was appointed in DCU to drive the project over a three year period. Fiona Earley, the autism friendly coordinator will implement and drive the principles, through 43 actions that are applicable to DCU, their students, staff and the campus as a whole.

DCU are committed to supporting and celebrating our students and staff who are on the autism spectrum. We are adapting the environment, raising awareness and acceptance, and building initiatives to make it as easy as possible for autistic community members to participate fully in all aspects of university life.

The Principles of an Autism-Friendly University

  1. Encourage and enable autistic students to transition and participate in university programmes.
  2. Support and build capacity to equip autistic students to meet the academic challenges of everyday university life.
  3. Support and build capacity to equip autistic students to meet the social challenges of everyday university life.
  4. Seek to establish an autism-friendly operational environment.
  5. Seek to combat the stigma around autism and recognise the diverse experiences of those with the condition.
  6. Develop understanding and relevant knowledge and skills within the university community.
  7. Establish channels so that autistic students can have a voice in various aspects of university life.
  8. Increase the employability of autistic graduates through a range of initiatives that will develop their soft-skills to support their transition beyond university.

If you would like to learn more about the project click here


Additional information and links

This three minute video explains what it took for DCU to become autism friendly. We are constantly working on this and would love to hear your suggestions!


If you would like to learn more about DCU’s partnership with Specialisterne you can click here.

If you would like some tips on how to tell the university that you are autistic you can click here.

Contact the autism friendly coordinator at fiona.earley@dcu.ie