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Curtin’s autism mentor program on show at first Malaysian symposium

Media release

Curtin University’s tailor-made mentoring program for students on the autism spectrum will be showcased at the first Autism Initiatives Malaysia symposium, held in Kuala Lumpur on July 13 and 14.

Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program Managers Dr Jasmine McDonald and Ms Theresa Kidd have been invited to present at the two-day international conference, which will consider how people with autism can transition to further education and employment.

Dr McDonald said their presentation would outline how Curtin’s program had been designed to meet the complex and individualised needs of students on the autism spectrum.

“We know from the success of the Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program that university students with autism consider the support they receive from trained, specialist mentors as an important tool to help them navigate university life,” Dr McDonald said.

“With an increased prevalence of students with autism entering university, showcasing programs like Curtin’s to an international audience at the Autism Initiatives Malaysia symposium will help other countries as they search for meaningful ways to support students to complete their university studies.”

Ms Kidd, a Clinical Psychologist, said she would discuss the link between autism and anxiety with research showing at least 50 per cent of individuals on the spectrum experienced at least one, often more, co-occurring anxiety disorders.

“It’s necessary to better understand how anxiety is experienced and expressed by people with autism in order to be able to offer greater support throughout the mentoring process, and this program is a key step in doing that,” Ms Kidd said.

“Through this program, we have found that students not only feel supported but confident in their journey through university and into the workforce beyond that.”

Currently, 67 students with autism are being mentored through Curtin’s program by 48 postgraduate students.

The Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program, which was introduced in 2014, is now available free on the Autism CRC website for other tertiary institutions to download and implement.

For more information on the Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program, visit here.

For more information about the Autism Initiatives Malaysia symposium, visit here