Supporting the transition of autistic students into university life: reflections on a specialist peer mentoring scheme

English, Lesley (2018) Supporting the transition of autistic students into university life: reflections on a specialist peer mentoring scheme. Good Autism Practice (GAP), 19 (1). pp. 63-67.

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Abstract

Moving from school to university is a big step for all students and for autistic students, the challenge can be even greater. Some autistic students choose a university close to home as changing two major aspects of their life (where they live and where they study) and leaving the support of their family is too great a challenge. Nevertheless, an increasing number of autistic students do attend university and succeed in getting their degrees and some live away from home. Having the offer of support at university can make the difference between success and failure. Universities employ staff in Disability Support Services and Student Support departments where students can go for advice and support. A smaller number of universities have peer mentoring schemes where current students support students just starting at the university. Some of these operate for any student and others are specific to students who have disclosed a disability. The advantage of peer mentoring schemes is that students are supported by those close in age and there is potential to customise the support to the particular preferences and needs of the student. This paper reports on a pilot study which set up a peer mentoring scheme for autistic students. It poses questions in terms of initial training and the support of the mentors as well as how autistic students are supported to engage with the mentor. The eight mentors in this study did not have a great deal of contact with their mentee which could be a sign of success or a failure to ‘support’ the interaction of the two. Ways to support the mentor and methods of establishing and sustaining the relationship require careful thought. The Editor welcomes other papers on how effective peer-to-peer systems have been set up and implemented elsewhere.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Good Autism Practice (GAP)
Publisher: The British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD)
ISSN: 1466-2973
Departments: Information Services
Additional Information: Article made open access with kind permission from GAP.
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 17 May 2018 13:50
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2018 15:31
URI: http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/3825

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