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Teen who was told he would never sit an exam prepares to start genetics course at UCD

Posted on 20 days ago by Laurentina Kennedy

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A teenager with autism who was told he was unlikely to ever sit a state exam has been offered a college place to study genetics.

He is determined to find out why his parents - who don't have autism - had four children on the spectrum.

Tristan Lennon from Mornington, Co Meath is getting ready to take his place at University College Dublin (UCD) after securing the extra points he needed through a post leaving certificate course (PLC). The 18-year-old student is encouraging people to take a PLC course, even if they receive the points they need for their preferred course, as he said it gives you the grounding you need for college life.

Tristan's mum Carol was told before his Junior Certificate that it was unlikely that he would ever sit a state exam. She fought to get the additional resources he needed to have the same chance as any other pupil.

"He needed one-on-one help in a lot of subjects so we were told he wasn't expected to sit any state exams due to his needs but I insisted and persisted and, just two days before the Junior Certificate, he was given all he needed as emergency measures," she said.

"And he did really well.

"Again, before the Leaving Certificate, we were told there was no resource accommodation available and again I pulled out all the stops to get it for him."

Tristan, now 18, missed out on the points he needed to get straight into his course but did a PLC, receiving ten distinctions and enough extra merits to get his place in the genetics course in UCD through the CAO round zero.

Tristan Lennon who was told it was unlikely he would ever sit a state exam, got offered a place studying genetics in UCD. With his mum Carol.
Tristan Lennon who was told it was unlikely he would ever sit a state exam, got offered a place studying genetics in UCD. With his mum Carol.

Tristan was one of 4,411 applicants to receive 5,432 offers for third-level places through the CAO round zero in early August.

Those who fall into the round zero category include graduate entry medicine applicants, additional mature applicants, deferred and access applicants, as well as those presenting QQI FET/FETAC qualifications for courses with a quota for such applicants.

"He has come a long way. We didn't think he would get on the train independently to go to his work experience in Dublin as part of the course but he did and he even stood up to a gang who assaulted him on his first journey," his proud mum said.

Four of Carol's five children have been diagnosed with autism. She has fought hard for extra services for her children over the years.

I've learned that you have to fight and fight hard to be heard when you have a child with autism in Ireland.

"And I'm very proud of where my children are today because of any supports and resources that I've fought for to help them to get the chance they deserve in life."

Tristan has encouraged everyone to consider a PLC course, even if they get the points they need for their preferred course.

"The PLC gave me a grounding of how college worked and taught me how to commute independently and how to start independently learning," he said. 

"Now I'm ready to concentrate solely on my course. My current interest is in genetics and I would like to research if there is a concrete link between the make-up of genes and disabilities.

"I'd love to find out why my parents, who don't have autism, had four out of five children with autism."