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What legislation exists to support people with Autism?

The rights of Autistic People are referred to in Ireland under various Acts relating to such areas as equality, education and employment. They are also supported internationally – in Europe under the European Charter of Rights for Persons with Autism, and by the United Nations through the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Please see a summary below for further information.

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, co-authored by Executive Director of the Irish Society for Autism Dr. Pat Matthews, aimed to have far reaching consequences on the quality of life for children & adults with Autism across Europe. The Charter states that Autistic people should have the same rights as enjoyed by all EU citizens, where such be appropriate and in the best interest of the person with Autism, and that these rights should be enhanced and enforced by appropriate legislation in each member state.

This Act is to provide for the development and implementation of a cross-departmental multi-agency autism spectrum disorder strategy, and to provide for related matters.

The Bill has been passed in the Seanad, but is as of yet to be put before the Dáil.

The Bill can be viewed here.

The Disability Act was designed to advance and underpin the participation of people with disabilities in society, by supporting the provision of disability specific services and improving access to mainstream public services. It recommends public bodies make buildings and services accessible to people with disabilities, provides for sectoral plans in key service areas and requires public bodies to take positive actions to employ people with disabilities.

A key element of the Disability Act, is the provision that any person who considers that he or she may have a disability is entitled to apply for an independent Assessment of Need. The assessment will be undertaken without regard to cost or capacity to provide any services identified in the assessment.

For further information on the Disability Act, please see here.

The Equal Status Acts prohibit discrimination in the provision of goods and services, access to education, and the provision of accommodation on any of the following nine grounds;

  1. Disability
  2. Age
  3. Gender
  4. Civil Status
  5. Family Status
  6. Sexual Orientation
  7. Religion
  8. Race
  9. Member of the Travelling Community

To view the Act in full, please see here

The Education Act makes provisions in the interests of the common good for the education of every child in the State, including any child with special educational needs, and to provide generally for primary, post-primary, adult and continuing education and vocational education and training. It also aims to ensure that the education system is accountable to students, their parents and the State for the education provided, respects the diversity of values, beliefs and traditions in Irish Society, and is conducted in a spirit of partnership between schools, parents, teachers and other school staff and the State.

To view the Act in full, please see here.

This Act provides for the entitlement of every child in the State to a certain minimum education, and, for that purpose, to provide for the registration of children receiving education in places other than recognised schools, the compulsory attendance of certain children at recognised schools.

To view the Act in full, please see here.

Provides that:

– People with disabilities shall have the same right to avail of, and benefit from, appropriate education as do their peers who do not have disabilities.

– To assist children with disabilities to leave school with the skills necessary to participate, to the level of their capacity, in an inclusive way in the social and economic activities of society and to live independent and fulfilled lives.

  • – To provide for consultation with parents of children with disabilities in relation to the education of those children, and for those purposes to establish a body to be known as the National Council for Special Education.
  • To view the Act in full, please see here.


The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 introduced a number of reforms aimed at making it easier for a child to access their local school. Most notable of these reforms being that the Act will provide for a situation where a child (with special needs or otherwise) cannot find a school place, and allow the National Council for Special Education or Tusla (Child and Family Agency) to designate a school place for the child. Likewise, it will provide for the Minister to require a school to open a special class for children with special educational needs where the National Council of Special Education deems it necessary.

To view the Act in full, please see here.

The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 aim to promote equality, prohibit discrimination across nine grounds, prohibit sexual and other harassment and prohibit victimisation in the workplace. It also aims to make sure that suitable facilities for people with disabilities are available in relation to accessing employment, advancing in employment, and taking part in training.

With regards to any form of disability, employers are obliged to make reasonable accommodations for staff with disabilities, which includes providing access to employment, enabling people with disabilities to participate in employment including promotion, and training.

The Employment Equality Act 1998 can be viewed in full here.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was brought about to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

To view the full text of the Convention, please see here