Kevin Hanly says barriers still need to be broken down for people with autism

Kevin Hanley and Adam Harris, the CEO of AsIAm, at the launch of the Same Chance campaign. Photo courtesy of Kevin Hanly.

A Tipperary autism advocate hopes that the Same Chance Report will prompt further acceptance of people with autism.

Kevin Hanly from Solohead spoke as part of a panel on the report at The Aviva and said that if people with autism are given the same chances, much more can be done in our communities.

He told Tipp FM that he has always been autistic, but there were always obstacles in life.

“Barriers that we have in our society, trying to break them down, to show people that there shouldn’t be any stigma with autism, which sadly there is still to this day.

“Still, 60% of society still feel they don’t have a good understanding of autism.”

Telling his own story, Kevin added;

“I was so lucky to have Solohead GAA and Tipperary footballers in my life. They gave me the same chance to believe in myself!!”

“If people can accept and give people with autism that chance, it is amazing what can be done in our communities. When I was younger, I didn’t have friends, I didn’t know how to socialise.

“I was in primary and secondary school; I didn’t know how to connect with people. I got comfortable in my own skin and just being around myself. I didn’t find I had a friendship or a social aspect to life. In my teenage years, I was developing and learning about myself and autism.

“I have known since I was 3 or 4, I have always been autistic, it has always been a part of me and my life. I don’t know any different. Going through life that was always a hurdle or barrier. When I got involved going to matches, I opened myself up to people and got chatting and got to have a social aspect that wasn’t there when I was a child/teenager.”

He said that he really appreciates the support from SuperValu and Tipp FM.

The findings of the Same Chance Report include:

Public Perceptions

· Only 4 in 10 Irish people claim to have a ‘good’ understanding of Autism

· 6 in 10 people associate negative connotations with Autism

· Only 6 in 10 people believe autistic children should attend the same school as non-autistic children

Views of people with autism:

· 54% of cardholders confirmed they have experienced discrimination

· 71% believe the Government does not take a coordinated approach

· 10% of cardholders believe the workplace in inclusive

In response, to these findings, AsIAm has also today launched its Same Chance Campaign, at the Aviva Stadium to mark World Autism Month and spearhead its key annual fundraising efforts. The campaign aims to ensure that autistic people are afforded the same chance in every aspect of life, from going to school and making friends, to finding a job and accessing public services. Donations can be made directly by visiting

The launch event also featured two panel discussions around the challenges still being faced by autistic people in Ireland today in the areas of education and professional life, with Minister of State for Special Education Josepha Madigan TD contributing a keynote speech.

Speaking at the launch, Adam Harris, CEO of AsIAm commented:

“Unfortunately, too often autistic people face barriers which others in society do not. AsIAm is working to remove these barriers, through our wide range of support, information and advocacy programmes, but we urgently need the public to donate this month in order to sustain and expand this work.

“We are calling on the Government, policy makers, employers, educations and healthcare professionals to do give autistic people the same chance, to work with us to provide a roadmap of progress for the next two years. These report findings reveal the clear challenges still being regularly faced by autistic people across Ireland while also highlighting the work to be done to educate the public and improve the lives of people with autism.

“There is a real opportunity for all of us to identify areas key areas that require immediate attention to shape and contribute to a National Autism strategy and help bring autistic people on to the same platform as all in society.”