1 Healthy living

This article focuses on the importance of healthy habits for wellbeing. The article provides useful tips and information regarding physical wellbeing, diet, responsible alcohol use, exercise and sleep.

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2 Studying remotely in times of social distancing

The article provides practical assistance with studying during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown. It covers mental health and well-being considerations as well as guidance in navigating university systems, services and people you can liaise with. We also offer guidance on prioritising your work, taking into account a healthy work-life balance.

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3 Student Story: Rosie


I completed my 4-year degree at Trinity College Dublin in Management Science & Information Systems. I was diagnosed with ASD towards the end of my third year. As such I feel I have had a unique experience having experienced college as

  • An undiagnosed autistic student not availing of disability service supports
  • A diagnosed autistic person (yay!) availing of disability service supports

My diagnosis, as well as tackling my sophister college years amid the pandemic certainly made for an interesting (but certainly positive ) experience. Here I share some of the many pearls of wisdom I have gathered!

Asking for Help

The most important thing I have learnt about life in college is that help does exist, and there are staff members whose responsibility it is to help you. Most importantly, you should know that you will not be automatically given help. College is very different to secondary school in that you sometimes must stick your neck out for yourself and ask for the support you need.

At Trinity you can get help and guidance from your peers of course, but also your tutor or your lecturers. If you are lucky enough to have an official diagnosis you can register with the disability service. The disability service is your friend! The staff are all very helpful and nice and you can get free Occupational Therapy.

Sometimes you may have to email a couple of people before you end up in the right place, but it is all a learning process! Another piece of advice is to not ever feel annoying for contacting people, their job is to help you! Most Trinity staff are extremely nice!


Trinity certainly has one of the most beautiful campuses (I would like to say in the world, but I may be slightly biased!). I would advise exploring the campus and surrounding city as much in your own time to find areas you like to study, chill and eat in. Find a couple of places you like to eat out from that are not too expensive. My go-to would often be a burrito as they are (relatively!) cheap but also filling       You can very easily accidently go bankrupt buying oat lattes and lunch each day, so try keep a tab on your expenses.

Find an area in the library you like to study in. I always chose the lower floor of the Hamilton in the corner! Being close to the exit meant I could always pop out to refill my water bottle or take a quick break. I liked the familiarity of studying in the same area each time, and it helps with a study mindset.

If you have certain sensory preferences, find quiet places such as the rose garden to chill in if you need to. Trinity offers sensory rooms too which you may find helpful.


The thing about college is that sometimes your plans go out the window. This can be uncomfortable for some of us autistic people, however you sometimes you just have to roll with it. Group projects are always a little chaotic, so do not be worried if plans go astray. Lectures can be cancelled last minute or moved to different locations. You may end up spontaneously going out for food even though you packed lunch! The horror!


In general, you have to be a lot more organised in college than in secondary school. It always feels like a lot of effort to plan out your week – allowing for events, assignments or exams – but it pays off not to experience the stress of freewheeling it. If you can, always put a little effort into developing schedules that work for you.

Socialising & Societies

If you’re anything like me, socialising is made easier by having a shared interest. It can be easier to talk to new people when you have something to do together, rather than in an unstructured setting where you have no ties together. Societies are the perfect place to do this.

I for one am still blown away at the range of societies Trinity has to offer. Even now I hear about, say, a rifle society and am completely taken by surprise. Someone even tried to set up an aquarium society when I was in first year.

You can be sure to find a society that caters towards your special interests. If not, there are lots of initiatives you can get involved in for disability inclusion. This can be a great way to meet other neurodiverse students, or those who are interested in inclusion. Trinity has a new society for Neurodiversity – DUNeS. An official diagnosis is not necessary, so self-diagnosis is fine! You can even just be interested in neurodiversity. If you are interested in disability activism, accessibility or anything else to do with disability the Ability Co-op is a great one to join. they carry out various initiatives to promote inclusion around campus.

Either way, there is such a wide variety of societies available you are sure to find something that matches your hobbies and interests!

Fresher’s Week

Fresher’s week can be a bit of a sensory nightmare – be warned that at the societies fair people will come up and actively try to recruit you      . This is completely fine, but you may not be expecting it!!! The college is usually very crowded as people always turn up to the first week of events. It can be nice to carve out some time for yourself to look around campus for spots you find relaxing and quiet. These can be helpful later in the semester. Sometimes I would walk to St. Stephen’s Green at lunch. Even if it is a bit of a walk, it can be quiet enough midweek. Find out where the main parts of campus are, as well as all the various libraries. Even if you don’t end up having lectures at one end of campus, they might have a really nice library space. I was a STEM student myself but often went to the Perch in the Arts block for snacks or the Lecky to study when I wanted a change of scenery. The Rose Garden is a lovely place to sit but I have recently found out the ambient bird noises you can hear while sitting there are a fake recording! Extremely disappointing!

I would ensure that you do plan lots of energy replenishment activities before and during Fresher’s week to make sure you can give your all during the important parts You want to be relaxed and un-burnt out when meeting your classmates and for the first few lectures as you get used to college life.


The great thing about 3rd level education is that you chose to be there. You (hopefully!) chose your area of study, and so will be around likeminded people. This is also why a lot of people who hated secondary school find they love college. You are there to learn, but also to develop yourself as a person. It can be easy to feel intimidated by over-confident people or the huge number of students, but you worked hard to get there and absolutely deserve to be there.


I may be slightly biased, but Trinity has an extremely lovely campus. Make the most of your time there, and don’t forget to soak up the atmosphere! Walking around the buildings and on the cobblestones is inspirational in itself!

Best of luck, study hard (but not too hard!) and most importantly enjoy it, it certainly flies!

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4 Choosing a course and university

This article will help you decide what to study, and at which university. We provide practical tips on how to compare universities, how to prepare for open days and who to talk to at these events.

The AHEAD DisAbility Access Map is an interactive online desktop tool will allow you to track your path to college step by step and give you lots of great information and advice.  You can access the map by clicking on this link.

To find out more about applying to and accepting an offer in Trinity, read the guidelines at https://www.tcd.ie/study/assets/PDF/ChooseJan2019.pdf


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5 Applying to university

How are are CAO offers made for university and college places?

Find out more about applying to University generally, and about our university’s admission process.

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9 What is a Needs Assessment?

Individual needs assessments determine the level of support that students require. Based on appropriate evidence of a disability and information obtained from the student on the impact of their disability and their academic course requirements, the Disability Staff member will identify supports designed to meet your support needs.

They might also ask you about:

  1. how you think your educaton is impacted;
  2. whether you take any medication or have additional medical needs;
  3. what supports you received incsecondary school, if any;
  4. current challenges and those you might anticipate in connection to your course;
  5. assistive technology support;
  6. appropriate academic support, for example, examination accommodations, and extended library loans.

The Needs Assessment process also helps determine whether or not ypu are eligible for these supports through relevant disability funding such as the HEA ESF Fund for Students with Disabilities.

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10 Funding support for students with a disability

Most students registering with the Disability Service request access to a range of supports that help the student to reach their full potential while studying. Most student needs are accommodated through these supports. Some of these disability student supports are co-funded by the Department of Education and Skills and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.

Funding for these supports is not provided to individual students as is the case for the Diabled Student Allowance in the UK.

After registering online, students who desire specialist disability supports will be invited to meet with a member of the Disability Service team (Disability Officer/Occupational Therapist) on a one-to-one basis to discuss specialist disability supports. The student decides on the level of support that they require. All students in this category will have a full needs assessment and a Learning Educational Needs Assessment (LENS) report is produced for these students.

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11 What is Occupational Therapy Support?

Occupational therapy is a client centred health profession concerned with promoting health and well-being through occupation. Occupational therapists use the term occupation to describe all the things you do as a student, and have an understanding of how disability can possibly affect people’s ability to do the day-to-day things that are important for them. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable you to participate in the activities of everyday life as a student (Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland, 2017).  

You choose the areas that you would find most useful to work on with your OT, but to find out about some of the types of things that we commonly do with students, please visit our OT support page.


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12 The Ability Co-op

What is the Trinity Ability Co-op?

The Ability Co-op is a key part of the Trinity disAbility Hub development forming in Printing House Square. It is a collaborative initiative between students and staff that aims to provide opportunities for members to work together towards a more inclusive Trinity. The Ability Co-op is student-lead, and all projects and activities are mutually agreed by its members. From media campaigns to creative workshops, we can all contribute and work together towards inclusion in Trinity.

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13 Top tips for settling into college

The Leaving Cert Results are in, the offers have been made and the summer is drawing rapidly to a close. That means starting college for the first time for many students with Autism. Dr Alison Doyle shares some top tips below for making your first year a success.

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15 What is university really like?

It’s hard to know what college – or third level education as it is sometimes called – is like until you get there, and all colleges or universities are different.  In some ways it’s easier to describe what university is not! Well, everyone says that it is not like school or work or home. So, what IS university really like? We aim to give you a realistic view, based on things students told us they wish they had known.

You can find out more about student life in Trinity here https://www.tcd.ie/students/

You can also read about What to expect in your first 12 weeks in Trinity College

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16 What are lectures really like?

Lectures at university can be quite different from lessons at school and college, particularly when you are taught in a big group. Generally speaking they take the format of:

  • Larger group
  • Larger venue
  • Lecturer will dictate information
  • Questions can be asked after the lecture material has been presented.
  • Lecturers use PowerPoint
  • Best not to interrupt
  • More formal
  • Students take notes
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17 What is group work really like?

Working in a group with other students is part and parcel of university study. Quite a few people worry about it, and some have real problems with it. This activity looks at the main issues people have with group work and gives you some practical tips for your own study.

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18 What are seminars really like?

Seminars provide an opportunity to explore topics by discussion, and to identify and resolve any questions that may arise after lectures.  This section will look at how to prepare for a seminar, and what to expect from one.

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19 What are computer lab sessions really like?

On technical courses such as Computing, Forensics, Games Development or Creative Technology you will spend a lot of tutorial time in a computer lab. Whilst you’ll often focus on what you’re coding or designing, you may also take part in discussions and group tasks, like in a traditional seminar. Read this article to learn more about the nature of lab sessions.

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20 How to manage exams

This section looks at how to manage exams. This includes information about what to expect, how to prepare for an exam and practical tips to help you perform well.

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21 What happens if I have practice placements on my course?

The number of students with disabilities studying professional courses has increased significantly over the last number of years and to ensure students with disabilities are adequately supported the Disability Service has developed the Professional Placement Planning support programme.

This is aimed at all stakeholders including students, courses and placements to ensure disability supports can be put in place. It allows the professional course, the placement (employer) and the student to work together to ensure that students with disabilities have been reasonably accommodated on placement. Failure by course providers or employers to make reasonable accommodations for a student with a disability on a professional placement can be unlawful discrimination. The central element of placement planning is a process of communication and information sharing. This process plays a key role in ensuring that students and staff in the placement are confident and enabled to:

  • Clearly define learning outcomes and core competencies expected of students on professional placements
  • Participate and understand effective disclosure/confidentiality process
  • Identify students’ practice placement needs and their learning needs
  • Provide and explain practice placement reasonable accommodations
  • Maintain academic and professional standards
  • Ensure the safety of students, staff and members of the public
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22 Meeting people at university

Many students find meeting new people and making friends amongst the most exciting but also most difficult aspects of starting university. Naturalist and University of Lincoln visiting professor Chris Packham shares his own experience of attending university with Aspergers Syndrome.


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23 Talking about your autism

By talking about your autism and advocating for yourself, you make an important step towards feeling comfortable with others. This activity introduces the advantages of being open about your autism, and give some practical tips.

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25 How to reduce anxiety and stress

It is normal to feel anxious when starting something new, like a university course, and everyone feels stress at difficult times of the year like exam periods or when there is a lot happening in their lives. It can sometimes be hard to relax. This activity is about helping you to manage these feelings and includes tips from other autistic students.

The Trinity College Disability Service has developed a suite of resources and supports for students with mental health difficulties, which aim to support the student at all stages of their academic journey, from transitioning into College, first year, to graduation, and into employment.  All students with mental health difficulties on registering with the DS will have a needs assessment carried out by one of the Occupational Therapist (OT) and can continue to get on-going support throughout their time in Trinity from the OT.

Trinity also provides other mental health supports, these include Counselling, GP and Psychiatric Supports. Student Services utilises a multi-disciplinary approach, and is comprised of an experienced team of individuals who work to support students with complex disabilities.  To assist all Student Services in supporting this student cohort a Student Services Co-ordinator has started working in Trinity (December 2017). This is the first role of its kind in a university in the Republic of Ireland.

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26 Managing conflict

Different people have different expectations and styles of working or living together. Sometimes that can lead to conflict. This article will help you recognise causes of conflict and proposes strategies to resolve it.

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