Lack of supports sees ‘hundred of students with autism leave school’

Autism Conference hears 20% of people diagnosed with autism are in full-time jobs

Dr Stephen Shore said people on the autism spectrum to live fulfilling and productive lives is unlimited. Photograph: Getty

Hundreds of students on the autism spectrum are falling out of the school system each year due to a lack of support, a conference on autism has been told.

The second AsIAm National Autism Conference held in Dublin on Saturday also heard 20 per cent of people diagnosed with autism were in full-time employment.

According to AsIAm; an autism advocacy organisation, the understanding and expertise required to ensure social participation of people in Ireland with autism lagged behind that of other European countries."

Approximately one in 65 Irish people live with autism and the failure of Irish society to enable them to fulfil their potential was the main theme of the conference.


AsIAm chief executive Adam Harris told attendees said the word autism placed "a glass ceiling" above people's heads.

He said society needed to move away from talking about autism as “a charity issue” and instead discuss the needs of autistic people as citizens living in this country

Mr Harris said people with autism could live full and rewarding lives if appropriate education, healthcare and other public services were delivered.

A recent AsIAm survey heard from more than 250 families whose children have fallen out of the education system. Over 70 per cent felt this was due to anxiety and the sensory environment of the school.

AsIAm claims thousands of people with autism in Ireland live in isolation with limited friends or social outlets due to a lack of services.

The conference explored the reasonable expectations of a citizen to lead a fulfilling life and Irish society’s failure to vindicate these for people with autism.

Mr Harris said there was a need for people with autism to be “more ambitious for ourselves” and open to understanding the skills they could learn to become more independent.

The conference also heard from a number of international experts in the area of autism including Dr Stephen Shore.

Non-verbal until the age of four Dr Shore was diagnosed with “Atypical Development and strong autistic tendencies” and it was recommended to his parents that he be institutionalised.

Dr Shore is now the clinical assistant professor of special education at Adelphi University in the US.

According to Dr Shore, the potential of people on the autism spectrum to live fulfilling and productive lives is unlimited and with support they can achieve that potential.