A social inclusion analysis for individuals with autism, from the perspectives of young adults, parents, and staff at the Rainbow Club Cork Centre for Autism

Thumbnail Image
Mulcahy, Alexandra
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork
Published Version
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
This research project was conducted in collaboration with the Rainbow Club Cork Centre for Autism and the CARL project initiative. The purpose of this research is to provide a social inclusion inquiry into how the social requirements of young people with autism are satisfied or not met from an inclusionary stance. This study is ethically approved by the school of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork. Primary research was conducted and included interviews with seven participants, who represented a variety of viewpoints, including young adults with autism, parents of children with autism, and Rainbow Club staff members who provide services. The interpretations of this study were viewed through a social constructivist lens in order to analyse the effects of societal assumptions when understanding the lived experience of autism. The findings are presented using a thematic analysis, in which five themes emerged; social needs, social enablers, social barriers, autism social inclusion and services provided by the RCCCA that fulfil the needs of persons with autism. The study’s findings illustrated that although society has made some efforts to include persons with autism into society, there is still a long way to go before social cohesion is achieved. The social needs of young people with autism were found to be unmet in a variety of social contexts. Participants were, however, able to identify social enablers in society that enhance participation, for example inclusive social environments, parents, and the support of the RCCCA. The complete integration of people with autism into society, however, was severely hampered by discrimination, a lack of understanding, and the absence of environments that were universally acceptable. Participants indicated that acceptance of autism, as well as universal access to all supports and services, were among their top priorities for achieving social inclusion. The RCCCA's services were also investigated, with the Teen Hub, the Mentorship Programme, social groups, summer camps, and adapted sports among the most beneficial, boosting a sense of independence and social skills. Participants also indicated prospective future services that the RCCCA could provide in the future. In conclusion, this social inclusionary study discovered that society does not fully address the social needs of persons with autism, with participants' lived experiences highlighting how restricting society can be. The RCCCA, on the other hand, was known as a safe, judgment-free environment that encouraged and allowed every person with autism and their family to meet their social needs and be socially engaged. Prospective suggestions were offered, as well as recommendations for future autism research.
Social inclusion , Teen Hub , Mentorship programme , Young adults , Parents , Staff
Mulcahy, A. (2023) A social inclusion analysis for individuals with autism, from the perspectives of young adults, parents, and staff at the Rainbow Club Cork Centre for Autism. Cork: Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork.
Link to publisher’s version
©2023, Alexandra Mulcahy.