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Supporting students on the autism spectrum

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The Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program (CSMP) is helping Curtin students on the autism spectrum reach their academic and personal goals.

A student holding a jenga tower.

Curtin University developed CSMP in 2014 with funding assistance from Autism West, aiming to improve the social skills of students on the autism spectrum. Postgraduate student mentors from Occupational Therapy, Psychology and Speech Pathology help guide and support the students.

Dr Jasmine McDonald, who coordinates the program with her colleague, Theresa Kidd, says the CSMP is popular now more than ever with student participants.

“It started out with only five mentees and has now grown in 2015 to service 32 mentees. A video about CSMP has been recently produced by Danny Taylor-Smith, a talented young man on the autism spectrum,” Dr Jasmine McDonald says.

The video contains interviews with CSMP participants and their mentors, showing the support the program brings to students who find it challenging to navigate through the social maze of university campus life.

To support students even further, the CSMP has been granted the use of a common room on Curtin’s main campus. Norton Gold Fields, one of the CSMP’s sponsors, generously donated $50,000 to refit the room.

“The room will act as a sanctuary space on campus where mentors and their mentees can meet in a relaxed and welcoming environment,” Dr McDonald says.

The CSMP includes a weekly social group that operates during the semester to develop friendships between students and enhance their sense of belonging at Curtin. For more information on participating in the program or becoming a mentor, visit the CSMP webpage.

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