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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Accessibility | Disability and Equity in Education | Education | Higher Education

Publication Details

This article as published in The Ahead : A Review of Inclusive Education and Employment Practices, Issue 11, June 2020. Available online at:


Autism is a neurodevelopment condition that is ‘characterised by qualitative impairments in social communication and social interaction across contexts and a repetitive or restricted pattern of interest, behaviour and activity’ (Lambe, 2019:1531). According to the autistic rights movement, ‘autistic people are not disconnected from the world around them, they are differently connected to it’ (Leveto, 2018 :3). Over the last number of years, there has been a move away from defining autism as a ‘disorder’ and towards redefining it as a ‘difference’ (Ring et al, 2018). In this paper, the terms ‘autism’ or ‘on the spectrum’ will be used.

The Moving to Further and Higher Education Report (Guckin et al, 2013) recommended the development of targeted access initiatives to support the academic and social needs of students with a disability in transition and progressing through further education. Targeted orientation programmes are used to allow students from under-represented groups to meet other students, visit the campus, tour the library and get essential information that will support the student’s transition to higher education.

Disability Support Services (DSS) are keenly aware of the importance of the transition from second-level education into third level education. Year on year there is an increase in the number of students with disabilities who are accessing third-level education. Students with disabilities now make up approximately 6.2% of the total student population (AHEAD, 2019). Since 2016, there has been a 25% increase in the number of students accessing higher education who are on the spectrum.