Autism Friendly Initiative

AsIAm-Autism-Friendly-University-Logo

ATU Sligo are working with AsIAm to become an Autism Friendly Institution, where the physical, social and academic environment is more accessible to autistic students.​

What is the Autism Friendly Initiative?

Our Autism Friendly Initiative aims to make ATU Sligo a more welcoming and accessible place for autistic students, where they are supported to participate fully in academic and social life.  We use the 8 principles of Autism Inclusion to guide us as we work towards Autism Friendly status.

The 8 Principles of Autism Inclusion are:

  1. Encourage and enable autistic students to transition and participate in ATU Sligo’s programmes.  
  2. Support and build capacity to equip autistic students to meet the academic challenges of everyday life at ATU Sligo.  
  3. Support and build capacity to equip autistic students to meet the social challenges of everyday life at ATU Sligo. 
  4. Seek to establish an autism friendly operational environment, for both on campus and online students. 
  5. Seek to combat the stigma around autism and recognise the diverse experiences of autistic students.  
  6. Develop understanding and relevant knowledge and skills within the community at ATU Sligo. 
  7. Establish channels so that autistic students can have a voice in various aspects of life at ATU Sligo.  
  8. Increase the employability of autistic graduates through a range of initiatives that will develop their soft-skills, supporting their transition to access employment, training, or other educational options.
image of 3 student ambassadors at atu sligo mural

Who is involved in The Autism Friendly Initiative

Dr Shelley Brady 

Disability Officer 

​ Email: disability.sligo@nullatu.ie

Linda Mulligan 

Inclusion Support Worker 

 Email: inclusionsupport.sligo@nullatu.ie

Ivana Hanjs

Website Project and Content Coordinator

Keith McManus

Head of Department, Computing

Maureen Haran

Project Lead, Universal Design for Learning Project

Lisa Cronin

Lecturer, Environmental Science & Sustainability

Una L’Estrange

Lecturer, Department of Computing

Faye Woods

Welfare Office, ATU Sligo Student Union

ATU Sligo Students

Anonymous Participation

Dr Shelley Brady

Disability Officer

Linda Mulligan

Inclusion Support Worker

How are autistic students involved in The Autism Friendly Initiative?

Our students play a vital role at every stage in our journey towards Autism Friendly Campus status (and beyond!).  Through the completion of surveys and polls, input via the Ambassadors’ group and Autism Friendly Initiative Steering group, as well as feedback via our support services, students are at the heart of what we do.  We encourage and support students to participate and to lead in areas of interest, where appropriate.  

The wellbeing of our students is paramount.  We understand that increased public exposure results in increased vulnerability, so we respect any student’s wish to contribute anonymously to this project.

Mural at ATU Sligo

New Students - Autism and Uni Toolkit

The Autism & Uni Toolkit is a digital tool that provides information to help young autistic adults to gain access to Higher Education and to navigate the transition successfully. The Toolkit gives students information and strategies to help them overcome the challenges they typically encounter during the transition to University. Take a look at ATU Sligo’s Autism & Uni Toolkit to learn more. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

ATU Sligo also have a comprehensive FAQs webpage, providing answers to a multitude of questions! 

For example, to find information on places to eat/buy food and drink on campus, visit the FAQs webpage, click on the dark green ‘while you study’ section, then click on the ‘Student Services’ button, then ‘Places to eat/buy food’. 

Updates and Events

Our journey has only recently begun, but some of our main updates are listed below.

Inclusion Support Worker Appointed

Linda Mulligan was appointed as the Inclusion Support Worker.

This role is to support our neurodiverse student body. This role was made possible through funding by the iNote project in ATU Sligo.

Linda Mulligan can be contacted at inclusionsupport.sligo@nullatu.ie.

ATU Sligo celebrated Autism Acceptance Week in April 2022, with talks for student and staff on autistic wellbeing and on how to create neurodiversity affirming learning environments. 

You can view our Autism Acceptance Week schedule for 2021/22.

We are already planning more educational events for the 2022/23! 

The sensory environment, navigation of physical spaces and engagement with digital interfaces can all pose challenges for students on the spectrum so audits will be carried out to highlight these challenges. 

AsIAm conducted a Sensory Audit of the ATU Sligo campus in April 2022.

Alert us to any sensory / physical barriers that you experience at ATU Sligo – see further below under ‘How to get involved’.

Focus groups were held to explore the needs of students. They identified to need for an Autism Friendly Space to be integrated across the campus.  

A Working group involving staff from all across ATU Sligo and autistic students meets to further the ’autism-friendly agenda’. 

Students have been invited to become ambassadors for the autistic community at ATU Sligo 

Pathways to support students in potentially being assessed for an autism diagnosis have been established .

ATU Sligo have partnered with Specialisterne Ireland to support students in gaining employment  .

Navigating the Campus

Supports for Autistic Students

In this section we’ve included links to information about services, supports, and information that may be useful to autistic students. 

  • Visit ATU Sligo’s Disability Support webpage for information on supports available and how to register.
  • Use ATU Sligo’s Autism & Uni Toolkit for more detailed information about the Disability Service, and about ATU Sligo.
  • Creating Neurodiversity Affirming Learning Environments by Dr Chloe Farahar; this talk was part of ATU Sligo’s Autism Acceptance Week 2021/22. Click here to request a copy of the video and slides. 
  • Being Autistic at University by Dr Chloe Farahar; this talk was part of ATU Sligo’s Autism Acceptance Week 2021/22. Click here to request a copy of the video and slides. 

  • The Student Portal has lots of information on general student supports, events, and much more.

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page will provide answers to a multitude of questions!

How to get involved

Please let us know what challenges you experience and solutions you might have through the surveys we have linked below. This could be anything from the way certain lights affect you, to noise or even smells. 

To complete a short Sensory Alert, please use this form 

We want to know what is important to you in an autism friendly space. Please fill in this short survey and let us know what you would like to see as a space available in ATU Sligo. 

The Neurodiversity Society is a society organised for neurodivergent students by neurodivergent students.

The society meets regularly during term time in a room on campus, although online activities may also be offered in the future.

For more information and to get involved, you can visit their webpage, and/or contact the Inclusion Support Officer.

Alternatively, you can attend Clubs and Societies Day, which usually takes place on campus in October. There you can learn more about the many Clubs and Societies available at ATU Sligo, including the Neurodiversity Society! Further information about Clubs and Societies can also be found on the ATU Sligo’s Clubs and Societies website.

The Ambassadors’ Group is a small group of students who meet with the Inclusion Support Worker around once a month to share their views and ideas on how to make ATU Sligo a better place for autistic people.

In the year 2021/2022 this group met exclusively online; plans for future meetings will be based on the communication and scheduling needs of the student members.

If you are autistic, or think you might be, you are welcome to join this group. 

Some students find it easier to study / focus on their college work if they have others to study with. If you are autistic/neurodivergent and registered with the Inclusion Support Service, we can help to connect you with another student or group of students registered with our service. 

 

ATU Sligo students at the 'Fish'

Supports for Staff & Resources

Here you can find links to information about services, supports, and information that may be useful to staff working with autistic students. 

A student on a laptop

Staff Advice Clinic is for advice and tailored support.

Contact the Inclusion Support Service to ask for advice and/or make an appointment: inclusionsupport.sligo@nullatu.ie / linda.mulligan@nullatu.ie

This talk was part of ATU Sligo’s Autism Acceptance Week 2021/22.  

Click here to request a copy of the video and slides. 

This talk was part of ATU Sligo’s Autism Acceptance Week 2021/22.  

Click here to request a copy of the video and slides. 

Recommended Reading

Some neurodiversity-affirmative books, many written by autistic authors,  available to borrow from the ATU Sligo Yeats library

  1. Autism in Adults, by Dr Luke Beardon.
  2. Avoiding Anxiety in Autistic Adults, by Dr Luke Beardon
  3. NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, by Steve Silberman. 
  4. Unmasking Autism, by Dr Devon Price.
  5. The Autism and Neurodiversity Self Advocacy Handbook : Developing the Skills to Determine Your Own Future, by Barb Cook and Yenn Purkis
  6. Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism Paperback, by Barb Cook
  7. The Neurodiversity Reader: Exploring Concepts, Lived Experience, and Implications for Practice, by Milton, D., Ridout, S., Martin, N., Mills, R. and Murray, D.
  8. Working with Autistic Transgender and Non-Binary People: Research, Practice and Experience by KourtiMarianthi [editor.].
  9. Ableism in Academia, Edited by Nicole Brown and Jennifer Leigh.

Contact us

Linda Mulligan 

Inclusion Support Worker

Email: inclusionsupport.sligo@nullatu.ie.