National College of Ireland (NCI) has been accredited as an Autism Friendly Higher Education Institution by AsIAm. NCI is the second HEI in the world to achieve this award. This achievement was marked by the launch of a celebration video across all NCI's social media channels at 1pm on Monday April 19th.
Watch video announcement below:
Adam Harris, Founder and CEO of AsIAm said: “We’ve been really impressed by the commitment of NCI to this initiative. We believe they have set out an exciting roadmap to encourage more autistic students to study at National College of Ireland, to thrive there, and to access employment after their time there.”
Gina Quin, President of NCI said: “We worked hard for and with our students to achieve this award. This is not a static award to display in our atrium, but a living commitment to make the College a welcoming place for autistic students.”
National College of Ireland has undertaken some very apparent actions to achieve this accreditation, including changes to the physical environment of the College, by establishing Quiet Spaces and installing a sensory pod, as well as a partnership with Specialisterne Ireland as part of the College’s career support for autistic graduates, accompanied by staff training and raising autism awareness in the NCI and wider community.
Much of the work, however, is less immediately visible, but is, rather, about an ongoing and consistent application of the principles of autism inclusion across all areas of college life.
AsIAm Is Ireland’s National Autism Charity, working to create a society in which every autistic person is empowered to reach their own personal potential and fully participate in society. AsIAm believe that by developing the capacity of the autism community and addressing the societal barriers to inclusion, we can make Ireland the world’s most autism-friendly country.
AsIAm’s Autism Friendly HEI initiative addresses the fact that, even as more autistic people enter higher education, the number who graduate is comparatively small. Furthermore, those who do graduate are likely to experience unemployment or underemployment Cultivating an autism friendly environment in a college can go a long way towards alleviating these problems.
In 2018, Dublin City University (DCU) was the first HEI to achieve Autism Friendly status, in collaboration with AsIAm and Specialisterne Ireland, as the conclusion of an 18-month research project by Dr Mary Rose Sweeney. NCI is cognisant of building on this foundational work and, in turn, looks forward to sharing its learnings and experience with other educational institutions.
Pictured above, from the launch of the College's Autism Friendly Initiative in 2019, are Robert Ward, NCI's Director of Marketing and lead on NCI's Autism Friendly Initiative; Katie Quinn, Autism Friendly HEI Award Coordinator with AsIAm; Karen Mooney, Learning & Disability Support at NCI; Adam Harris, Founder and CEO of AsIAm.