Students with Autism as Research Partners: Responding to Real World Trends in Society

Geraldine Fitzgerald, Siobhán Dunne
2019 Zenodo  
In Ireland, there has been substantial progress at a policy level to support the rights of increasingly diverse groups; recent referenda on marriage equality and abortion and ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities exemplify how Irish society is changing to reflect its population's diverse needs. As a more inclusive society, there is increased open discussion on mental wellbeing and disability. At an institutional level, "to be truly inclusive, the
more » ... sive, the institutional environment must change to encourage diverse populations to thrive and to promote a sense of belonging" (Martinez-Acosta, 2015). The focus of this paper is on a library collaboration with a 'non-traditional' group of students in Trinity College Dublin who have autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD is a neurodevelopmental disability which is on the rise globally; average international estimates indicate that 1% of the population have the condition with US figures stating that one in sixty eight children have ASD (Van Hees, 2015). Being on the spectrum means that individuals "vary greatly in intellectual ability, extending from those with severe intellectual disabilities through to those who are intellectually gifted and talented" (Cho, 2018). Over the past five years, the number of students with ASD registered with the Disability Service in Trinity College Dublin has increased six-fold; Trinity now has the highest number of students with ASD in Ireland. Even though much has been written on the ASD student experience in higher education there "is a dearth of scholarship on what librarians can do when working with these students" (ibid). In this paper, we will elaborate on an innovative research approach that sought to plug this gap and describe how our collaboration resulted in a library video tool which is enhancing peer learning and encouraging greater library use. The subjects of this research are students with intellectual disabilities (ID) on the Arts, Science and Inclusive Applied Practice (ASIAP) certi [...]
doi:10.5281/zenodo.3258135 fatcat:2zc3fdg4efdobowgs3ybykfdmm