Autism at ACU

At ACU we seek to explore, understand and implement mechanisms within and beyond our university that build a more inclusive society where autistic people are supported to reduce barriers and recognise and celebrate strengths.

Our team of collaborators

Our program is unique in being conceived and guided by autistic people to ensure we are meeting their needs. We also work with industry partners and other educational institutions to share knowledge and influence policy.

Meet our team

Research and advocacy

Our research into public understanding and acceptance of autism and autistic people’s lived experiences is helping to develop resources, practices and inclusive approaches that enable autistic people to thrive.

Explore our research

Projects and initiatives

Through the development of a number of projects and initiatives we aim to address the challenges experienced by autistic students attending university and to build a more inclusive society for autistic people.

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Supporting our autistic students

Our Autism at Uni program offers a range of initiatives designed to support our autistic students in their studies and help ease their transition into the higher education environment.

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Autism resources

It is estimated that 1 in 70 Australians are autistic. Learn more about autism and download fact sheets and other resources.

Get the facts

EYE on Autism

EYE on Autism is a series of online panel sessions that offer an open space to explore everything you ever wanted to know about autism with our panel of autistic people. Join our next session and have your questions answered.

Join a session

Autistic Voices

Autism is a spectrum and each autistic person is an individual with different strengths and challenges. Hear first hand from autistic people sharing their stories and experiences in our Autistic Voices video series.

Watch a story

We respect each individual’s choice as to how they would prefer to describe themselves and/or be referred to by others.

While many may be more familiar with person-first language (i.e., person with autism) there is clear preference in the autistic community for the use of identity-first language (i.e., autistic person). Identity first language “reflects the belief that being autistic is a core part of a person’s identity. Similar examples of ‘identity first’ language can be found in the Blind and Deaf communities” (Autism Awareness Australia). Thus, this is the terminology used on these ACU webpages.

Consistent with its mission and values as a Catholic university, ACU is committed to supporting the dignity and well-being of all people in a manner that is sustainable and builds capacity at individual and/or organisational levels. There is a particular focus on working with communities who have experienced disadvantage and/or marginalisation.

Autistic people experience a number of barriers to inclusion and to reaching their potential; many of these barriers are social and environmental in nature.

Some of the most significant barriers experienced by autistic people occur in education and employment. A large majority of autistic children who are attending school (86%1) report ‘having difficulty’ at school, primarily difficulties with fitting in socially, learning and communication. Of those who complete secondary school, only 19% receive a post school qualification – compared to 59% of those with any form of disability1. Autistic people are less likely to be participating in the labour force2. In 2012, the labour force participation rate for autistics was 42%; compared to 53% of those with any form of disability and 83% of those without a disability.

As the understanding of autism has increased, the rate of diagnosis has also increased. In 2015 the ABS reported a prevalence rate of 1 in 1502, which is likely to be a considerable underestimation. Autism Spectrum Australia estimates it to be as high as 1 in 70 based on recent international data.

1. ABS (2012) 4428.0 - Autism in Australia, 2012
2. ABS (2015). Autism in Australia.

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Disability support

If you are a student with a diagnosed health condition, disability, learning disability, or have carer responsibilities that may impact your studies, we can give you the support you need.

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Student services

Studying is rewarding and worthwhile, but sometimes you may need help. Our student services can help you navigate your way through some of the more challenging parts of uni life.

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How families can help

You play a big part in helping your child choose a university. Let us relieve some of the pressure by giving you the tools you need to support the student in your life and ensure that ACU is the right fit.

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