College guide for parents

Accessing supports

Securing a place in college through the CAO and using the DARE scheme (disability access route to education) means your son/daughter will be contacted by the college before the start of term.

If they did not apply through the DARE scheme, you will need to inform the college of their diagnosis.

A non-CAO third level institution will require you to check their website on how to register with the disability service.

If possible, you should attend your son/daughters first meeting with the disability service.

If you wish to be able to communicate directly with the disability service, bring a letter of consent with you to the first meeting. Remember this is a concession on the part of the college and if you abuse it, the impact will be felt by other families.

Negotiating the campus

Disability service supports differ from college to college. However, the important thing is that you give them a good picture of your son/daughter.

Write down things they find problematic.

People with autism have difficulty with transitioning. However, difficulties negotiating the campus can case lateness, which has a greater impact on the individual. Supports can be implemented if lecturers are aware of this issue and it persists beyond the three week induction period.

Encourage your son/daughter to try all dining choices on campus. This will allow them to find the environment which suits them best.

Exposure to large, loud and overwhelming dining experiences may result in isolation at lunchtime. This will greatly restrict opportunities for social interaction.

Staying organised

College timetables are often fragmented resulting in gaps between lectures. If students need to stay on campus during these times, it needs to be well managed.

Making a ‘whole day timetable’ can be beneficial as lectures, studying and down time are all included.
Clubs and societies are a great way to meet new people and explore new interests. Keeping track of the social activity attendance will give you a window into their new life in addition to working as an early warning system for social pitfalls.


Extensions and accommodations need to be carefully explained and outcomes agreed in advance.

For example, if giving a three week extension on a 3,000 word essay: 1,000 words should be completed at the end of week one and it will be reviewed.

Students should introduce themselves to lecturers. Above all, it provides lecturers with information on supports needed by students.

Different services do not share information. For instance, if a student is attending counselling for anxiety, lecturers will not be informed unless the student requests it.

Communication is a two-way street. Therefore, communicating with the college if changes in your family circumstances is negatively impacting your son/daughter is very important.