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Who we are

Learn about The Irish Society for Autism

Our Organisation

The Irish Society for Autism was created in 1963, and has long campaigned for Autism in Ireland and Worldwide. We are the longest established specialist service for people with Autism in Ireland. The Society was formed with the goals of creating awareness about Autism, and convincing the authorities that early diagnosis and specialised education would greatly enhance the quality of life for Autistic people. 

Since 1963 the Irish Society for Autism has been providing information for thousands of people, parents, families, educators, students and health care workers. We have helped to establish residential services for adults with Autism in Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Wexford.

The Irish Society for Autism is a founder member of Autism Europe and the World Autism Organisation. The Executive Director, Pat Matthews, was the first President of the World Autism Organisation. 

Irish Society for Autism 50th Anniversary Conference

Our Highlights


The Irish Society for Autism is formed. A small group of dedicated parents and friends came together to form the Irish Society for Autistic Children.
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Dunfirth Farm is purchased, leading to the first development of an integrated rural based community for autistic people in Ireland.


Autism Europe is formed. The Irish Society for Autism is a founding member, our Executive Director Dr. Pat Matthews served as its first Vice President.

Autism Europe Logo in Circle Frame
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On Thursday the 9th of May 1996, The European Charter of Rights for Persons with Autism was signed by 331 Members of the European Parliament, and passed by the European Parliament. The Charter was co-authored by Executive Director of the Irish Society for Autism Dr. Pat Matthews.


People of the Year awarded jointly to Pat & Nuala Matthews for championing the rights of autistic people, and for promoting their welfare through European legislation.

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World Autism Organisation Founded. Pat Matthews elected as First President.


Overall winner of the AIB Millennium Award for Centre of Excellence – for the innovative approach to enriching the lives of People with Autism.

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Opening of Sarshill House, Wexford and the purchase of Cluain Farm, Kinnegad. The development of two new services by the I.S.A represents the commitment of the organisation to respond positively to the needs of autistic people.


Official Opening of Dunfirth Farm by President McAleese.

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The Report of the Department of Education and Science Task Force on Autism (Executive Director Pat Matthews was a member of the Task Force).  The Task Force was directed to review and assess educational provision and support services for people with Autism, and make such recommendations as were considered appropriate for the development or adjustment of existing policy approaches, educational provision and support services.


The Celtic Nations Autism Partnership is formed containing members from Ireland (The Irish Society for Autism), Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

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The first World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated on April 2nd. The Irish Society for Autism marks the day by re-launching the European Charter of Rights for Person with Autism in the European Commission Representation in Dublin.


Address to the United Nations; Pat Matthews briefed the UN Public Information Services on Autism and Human Rights. Attendees represented National and International N.G.O’s working with the United Nations.

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A seminar with Dr. Temple Grandin, prominent Author and Speaker on both Autism and Animal Behaviour, is hosted by the Irish Society for Autism.


Pat Matthews, Executive Director of the Irish Society of Autism, is conferred with an Honorary Doctorate at Trinity College Dublin for a lifetime of commitment to people with Autism. Pat Matthews campaigned nationally and internationally for the rights of people with Autism and has pioneered a deeper understanding of Autism. His work has established an ethos of respect and regard for autistic people.

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To mark the fifth annual World Autism Awareness Day our book Charter of Rights for People with Autism, Reflections and Personal Experiences was launched. The book contains thoughts, ideas and personal experiences of autistic people, parents and professionals.


The Irish Society for Autism celebrates its 50th anniversary.

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The Irish Society for Autism holds a two-day international conference with a selection of national and international speakers, with attendees from over 30 different countries.


The Irish Society for Autism undertook a very successful training partnership with the Football Association of Ireland.


The Irish Society for Autism became a member of the Commission for Aviation Regulation’s Passenger Advisory Group to represent and advocate on behalf of Autistic people. The Passenger Advisory Group examined how passenger priorities are addressed by the quality of service and relevant capital investment projects proposed by Dublin Airport.


The Irish Society for Autism adapted the delivery of our services and training to continue to provide uninterrupted support during the Covid-19 pandemic to autistic people, their families, and the wider public.


Celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the European Charter of Rights for Persons with Autism.


The ‘Bounce for Autism’ campaign in cooperation with Irish Trampolines, donating trampolines to special schools and Autism classes across the country for the benefit of autistic students.


The Irish Society for Autism is celebrating 60 years of providing services to autistic people, their families and members of the public.