Harry O’Brien shares his experience of all aspects of college as a student with Autism


The academic side of college is probably the toughest part of the whole college experience for me. Nobody was making me go to lectures, nobody was making me do the homework which was worth 20% of one module, and nobody was making me study, so I did almost nothing in first year. I ended up failing two exams in my Christmas exams, one of which I would have passed had I done the homework. The best advice I wish I had received in first year is do the bloody continuous assessment, it’s the easiest marks you can get.

When I eventually started taking college seriously, I realized how beneficial it was to hang out with people in my course, specifically hang out in the room which is just for msiss students because that’s where a lot of people in msiss hang out. It really helped me get to all my lectures, get my assignments submitted on time, and lifted all my exam results. I also started interacting with lecturers more, asking questions at the end of lectures and sending emails. I kind of didn’t want to ask the lecturers questions so I did have to push myself out of my comfort zone to do that, but getting lecturers to know your name is great when you need extensions on assignments, if you get 34 or 39 percent they’ll bump you up a few percent so you don’t fail if they recognize you, they won’t penalize you if you submit an assignment a few hours late, there are many many benefits of being a familiar face to your lecturers.

My 2nd year was very very easy compared to first year because in first year I would see the name of the lecture hall and wouldn’t know where it was, that wasn’t a problem in 2nd year, they also released a new app which shows you exactly where your lecture is which is great it’s called Trinity Live. 2nd year was easy also because I didn’t let my work pile up which I had done in first year, which made my exam time much less stressful.


I’ve stayed in halls for 2 years and I think I’ve interacted with every part of Trinity hall. My room was a small single bed en-suite which wasn’t the prettiest, but I remember thinking it was the best thing in the world when I first moved in. I’ve never had a problem running a hot shower, but I know you can’t get hot water out of the tap after 11 or 12. The wardrobes are nice and big and there’s plenty of room for storage, just don’t forget to bring your own hangers. The wifi is really good and there’s Ethernet Ports in every room, and the desks are plenty big. The staff are really helpful, they’ve caught me doing stuff I shouldn’t have, and I never ended up getting fined for it which I definitely should’ve. Anytime I’ve forgot my key and didn’t have money to buy a new one they’ve let me back into my room and picking up packages from reception is really easy.

The Junior Common Room (JCR) are a bunch of elected students who organize nights out, quizzes, sports events, and help with any student problems. Theyre great, if you do end up in halls, I highly recommend getting involved, either by going to the free yogas and soccer tournaments, going to the nights out, or actually helping organize those kind of events. If there’s a role you’d like to serve in 2nd year, be it JCR President, treasurer, or sports officer, find out what the roles like and get involved with them, and then run in the elections. The elections are great fun and aren’t to be taken too seriously, you have to write a manifesto and convince other students you’re the best person for the job through canvassing, social media, hustings, and just being a nice familiar face throughout the year.

Trinity halls itself is 30 minutes from Trinity by Luas, give or take 5 minutes. If you have a 9am lecture I recommend getting the bus which is about 5-10 minutes longer but you’re guaranteed a seat, whereas on the luas it’s not guaranteed you’ll get onto the luas at rush hour as they’re usually full, and if you do manage to squeeze yourself on you have to stand the whole time. I highly recommend walking to college, it takes around 40-50 minutes but it’s much more relaxing and a bit healthier. I listen to a podcast or music sometimes on the way in and take a wee bit of a detour to avoid the busy roads cos they’re full of road pollution. There’s a shop in halls that is a wee bit pricey but has everything you need and it’s open from 9am to 9pm, and the staff in there are really nice. There’s also a gym on site that’s a bit basic but handy if you don’t want to go to the Trinity gym at its peak because it’s much quieter and cleaner, the hours for the gym are different every year. The launderette is where you’ll do your laundry if you plan on doing it yourself, your other option is to drop it into a laundry service in town. They say they’re open until 11 but I don’t think they lock the door until 1am because I’ve forgot to collect my laundry until 11:30pm and I have been able to collect it every time. It’s pretty cheap, €4 for a wash and €2 for a dry. You can get change in smiles and they sell those big laundry tablets. If you’ve never done laundry before, the JCR are a great help for that, they have posters in the launderette to help you, but I find the internet to be a better resource.

If you have really bad anxiety or any other disability then the Welfare Officer is your best friend, the two Welfare Officers while I was there were so so nice. I never had any problems with my roommates that couldn’t be resolved with a quick chat or text, such as roommates making noise when I’m trying to sleep. there were other pet peeves I had with my roommates that I just left off because it wouldn’t have been worth bringing up, for example one of my roommates who was and still is a really good friend of mine sometimes dumped his dishes in the sink and turned the tap on for a bit, which clogged the drain with bits of pasta or onion and stuff, and it was easier to just leave the sink a mess or unclog it myself then bring it up. In retrospect I could have brought it up and he would have been sound about it, but I didn’t want to be annoying, so I just left it.

Overall my experience in halls has been very positive, I think it’s one of the best places a student on the autism spectrum can stay if they’re moving out. If you have some sort of disability which effects your social interactions and you want to stay in halls I recommend making contact with the disability service in Trinity before you apply for halls because the disability service should be able to ensure you get a single bed en-suite room, because there are shared rooms which I think wouldn’t be ideal for students like myself. My roommates from halls were and still are some of my best friends in Trinity.


Societies are a great way to find a new circle of friends in Trinity. My experience with societies is limited to the Wolfe Tone Cumann, the Fianna Fáil society, and the hist, a debating society. I’ve met people with similar interests and gone on a few nights out with these societies and am currently the events officer in the Wolfe Tone Cumann. The benefits of joining societies are the social aspect, the organization and team work skills you build if you get involved, for example I organized an interview with a td and a journalist and I learnt a lot about live-streaming on Facebook live, organizing food, drinks, making posters, co ordinating with the guests, booking a location, all stuff like that and I learnt a lot from it. it also looks good for the cv, especially if you’re trying to get into management consultancy or business administration, however for skill-based industries like law and programming this is less relevant. I had a lot of fun getting involved in societies, politics is something I enjoy and I learnt a lot about politics and met a lot of politicians and got involved with local politics through the Wolfe Tone Cumann so societies are a great way to get involved in an area you’re interested in.

Getting involved with a society isn’t as hard I thought it was in first year, my first year in college I never got involved with societies and I wish I did. Basically, you send their Facebook page a message saying you want to get involved. In the case of the Wolfe tone, we have irregular meetings and I was invited to one of them, the people there were sound, and we chatted about politics and I just kept going to the meetings. Getting involved with the hist I sent a message to their Facebook page, they actually run a debate practice which is held by members of the hist once a week on Tuesday evenings, and after a few weeks you go to debates against other people in the hist and against the phil and eventually regional and national competitions. Bigger societies are slightly more awkward at the start in my experience because it takes longer to get to know everybody, but there’s a reason they have more members it’s because they’re about more popular topics or look better on the cv. I don’t have any experience with clubs, but I know they’re like societies but tighter knit and have more time requirements.

The best advice I can give with regard to joining societies is find 4-6 societies on the Trinity CSC website that you think you’d be interested in, message them all and spend the first few weeks going to their events, and keep going to them until you’ve found a few you really enjoy. It’s pretty anxiety inducing to do this, but it will Yelp you build confidence and is probably the one thing you will do in your first semester of college that you will be grateful for for the next few years of your college course. If you want to take the path of least resistance and are too afraid of going to a bunch of new society events, every course has its own college society so getting involved in your course society means you can make friends in your course and get involved in a society at the same time, and it’s probably the best society you can get involved in for your cv, and making friends in your course is really really super beneficial because it will help you stay up to date on what’s going on in your course, what assignments are due, what internships you can apply for, tips and advice for assignments and what to study and important things lecturers have said that you might’ve missed, and so many other things. You also get to organize your course ball which is good craic.

Disability service

I am dyslexic, dysgraphic, and on the autism spectrum. I was on the dare scheme in leaving cert so when I got to Trinity I was booked into a meeting with the disability service. In that meeting I told them how my disabilities impacted my day to day life and in particular my academic life. I mentioned how it takes me longer to read and write than most people, and I’m more sensitive to light, heat, and noise. This was all taken down and I was given a LENS report, which is basically a report of your disabilities and how they effect your life. This dictates what supports you get from Trinity. In my case I get extra time in exams, lenience in the correction of my assignments with regard to spelling and grammar, and I’m allowed bring notes into certain exams. I also might get some sort of priority with regard to accommodation because my disability affects my sleep but I’m not sure. I attach my LENS report to emails when I’m requesting anything from a lecturer which helps lecturers decide how to treat me fairly. If you feel passionate about equality on campus and helping people with disabilities, then there’s no better way to help than to get involved with the disability service. We are in the middle of making a Co-op which is a work in progress but focused on making Trinity a better place for people with disabilities, so if you want to get involved get in contact with the disability service or send the Ability Co-op Facebook page a message.

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