Mentoring People with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Mentoring People with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Georgina Kerr

The last MSN workshop for 2018 was led by Georgina Kerr of Student Care and Equity, University of Newcastle.

Georgina described Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as a life-long developmental condition that impacts on a person’s ability to comprehend and interact with the world around them.
She spoke of the difficulties a person with ASD might have such as repetitive behaviour, passionate and single-minded interests, difficulty with change, social difficulties and sensory issues. Equally importantly she considered their many potential strengths including the potential to lead a successful social and working life.

Her tips for mentoring a person with ASD included:
• Be person focused and develop rapport
• Understand your role and scope, ask for help and refer if needed
• Give yourself time to understand and learn about the person you are working with and give them time to learn and understand you. Be aware of their goals
• Adapt communication, develop clear mentoring goals and manage your own expectations

Georgina has worked as an occupational therapist in inpatient and community mental health settings. Currently she is a disability advisor for University of Newcastle and a coordinator of the Specialist Peer Mentor Program – providing support to tertiary students on the Autism Spectrum and with related conditions. The program aims to support mentees to achieve their short, medium and long-term academic and life goals.

Notes from the workshop were, as usual, made available to all MSN members.