Tuesday 2 April is World Autism Awareness Day.

CEO and founder of AsIAm Jack Harris discusses new findings from this years ‘Same Chance Report’, showcasing the experiences of autistic people and families in Irish society.

Jack launched AsIAm when he was 19 years old, at the back of his lived experience growing up as an autistic person in Ireland.

“Growing up, I really experienced that sense of not being understood, of being very isolated as an autistic person. I wanted to change attitudes around what it meant to be autistic in Ireland,” says Adam.

Celebrating 10 years of AsIAm

AsIAm is Ireland’s autism charity and their vision is to create a society in which every autistic person is accepted “as they are”, with the aim of advocating for an inclusive society for autistic people that is accessible, accepting and affirming.

The charity works to support autistic people, their families and the wider community to fully engage in Irish life and build the capacity of our society to facilitate true inclusion.

This year’s report is a special one as AsIAm celebrates its 10th birthday.

AsIAm CEO Adam Harris.

“Whilst it is important to look back and be proud of the journey we have been on together so far, we know there is much more work to do. The Same Chance Report provides invaluable data which will inform our advocacy, support, training and public engagement activity right across the year,” says Adam.

About the report

The report, completed by over 1,700 people, family members, parents and carers, highlights a range of barriers, fears and challenges that are uniquely faced by members of the autistic community.

“These challenges range from discrimination in accessing healthcare, not having access to suitable housing, being excluded from education, feeling ashamed to disclose an autism diagnosis.

"This year’s report comes as we approach the one-year anniversary of the publication of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on autism’s final report.

"As this report highlights, the ubiquitous nature of the barriers and challenges facing the autistic community have not diminished,” says Adam.

Key statistics

The survey provides a “state of the community” report on autistic life in Ireland.

Key findings include:

  • 90% do not believe that the Irish public understand enough about autism.
  • 36% have experienced discrimination in the last year on the ground of being autistic.
  • 53% accessed their diagnosis privately.
  • 51% do not believe the education system was inclusive for autistic people.
  • 71% do not believe the healthcare system was inclusive for autistic people.
  • 73% of respondents said they did not have the same chance to demonstrate and use their strengths in the community.
  • 51% felt that their broader family did not understand and accept their autistic identity.
  • 47% of respondents said businesses in their community are not accessible and inclusive.
  • “A lack of understanding of autism among the general public leads to autistic people having to mask their identities. This can have significant consequences on an autistic person's access to opportunities as well as impact on their mental health,” says Adam.

    There are a number of events on across Ireland to raise awareness for autism this month. For information and support, call 0818 234 234 or click here.

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