Earlier this year, Dublin City University (DCU) became recognised as the world’s first autism-friendly university. The university has made great efforts over recent years to develop new initiatives that will help students diagnosed with autism to achieve their potential. These efforts include an 18-month research project that shows students with autism often experience greater levels of difficulty settling in and adapting to university life. Among the issues frequently raised include discomfort in noisy environments; difficulties in managing deadlines and workloads; challenges in participating in group work; and unease in new social situations.
In light of this, DCU has pledged to introduce a range of supports and initiatives to minimise these issues, along with autism-specific training and awareness for academic and support staff across the university.
According to the president of the DCU, Professor Brian MacCraith, the move was aimed at creating an environment which helps students with autism to flourish educationally and socially, and to significantly enhance their employability. He hopes that the initiatives will “provide a blueprint for others to follow and that this will become a global movement”.
Patrick Brophy, a student at DCU that was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, shared that the greater understanding of fellow students and staff at the university helped him to flourish. The positive, celebratory culture towards autism at DCU “means that people are better understood and less likely to be marginalised or isolated”.
I personally feel that this is a wonderful initiative. It is good that some schools are becoming more inclusive, taking into account the unique capabilities of each and every one of their students. This article serves as a good reminder that we are all not made equal – students learn at different paces or in different ways from others. In order to ensure no one misses out on the chance to maximise their potential, education should be made inclusive and welcoming to every student regardless of his or her capabilities, abilities, and social backgrounds.
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If you want to find out more about this initiative by the DCU, click the following link: