An Evaluation of Specialist Mentoring for University Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Mental Health Conditions
- 997 Downloads
Mentoring is often recommended to universities as a way of supporting students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and/or mental health conditions (MHC), but there is little literature on optimising this support. We used mixed-methods to evaluate mentees’ and mentors’ experiences of a specialist mentoring programme. Mentees experienced academic, social and emotional support, although subtle group differences emerged between students with ASD and MHC. The quality of the mentee-mentor relationship was especially important. Mentors also reported benefits. Thematic analysis identified that effective mentoring requires a tailored partnership, which involves a personal relationship, empowerment, and building bridges into the university experience. Mentoring can effectively support students with ASD and/or MHC, but this is highly dependent on the development of tailored mentee-mentor partnerships.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorder Mental health conditions Mentoring University Higher education Programme evaluation
We would like to thank Dr Alexandra Stanton and Susan Jewitt for their help with the design and implementation of the evaluation, and Neelam Solanki for her assistance with conducting this research. We would also like to thank all of the mentees and mentors who took part in the study. We are grateful to Royal Holloway University of London who supported the research via a College Teaching Initiatives fund.
RL and AJ contributed to the design and coordination of the study and data collection. RL had primary responsibility for the quantitative analyses, and AJ had primary responsibility for the qualitative analyses. Both authors drafted the manuscript and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants.
- AGCAS Disability Task Group. (2014). What happens next? A report on the first destinations of 2014 disabled graduates. Sheffield: AGCAS Disability Task GroupGoogle Scholar
- Ames, M., McMorris, C., Alli, L., & Bebko, J. (2015). Overview and evaluation of a mentorship program for university students with ASD. Focus on autism and other developmental disabilities. doi: 10.1177/1088357615583465.
- Baird, G., Simonoff, E., Pickles, A., Chandler, S., Loucas, T., Meldrum, D., & Charman, T. (2006). Prevalence of disorders of the autism spectrum in a population cohort of children in South Thames: The Special Needs and Autism Project (SNAP). The Lancet, 368(9531), 210–215. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(06)69041-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Beardon, L., Martin, N., & Woolsey, I. (2009). What do students with AS and HFA want at college or university? (In their own words). GAP, 10(2), 35–43.Google Scholar
- Castaneda, A. E., Tuulio-Henriksson, A., Marttunen, M., Suvisaari, J., & Lönnqvist, J. (2008). A review on cognitive impairments in depressive and anxiety disorders with a focus on young adults. Journal of Affective Disorders, 106(1–2), 1–27. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2007.06.006.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, (Vol. 58) Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and PreventionGoogle Scholar
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Prevelance of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years—Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. Surveillance Summaries. (Vol. 63, pp. 1–22), Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and PreventionGoogle Scholar
- Charman, T., Pickles, A., Simonoff, E., Chandler, S., Loucas, T., & Baird, G. (2011). IQ in children with autism spectrum disorders: Data from the Special Needs and Autism Project (SNAP). Psychological Medicine: A Journal of Research in Psychiatry and the Allied Sciences, 41(3), 619–627. doi: 10.1017/s0033291710000991.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Department for Business Innovation & Skills. (2015a). Consultation on targeting funding for disabled students in Higher Education from 2016/17 onwards. London: Department for Business Innovation & SkillsGoogle Scholar
- Department for Business Innovation & Skills. (2015b). Government response: Consultation on targeting funding for disabled students in Higher Education from 2016/17 onwards. London: Department for Business Innovation & SkillsGoogle Scholar
- Equality Change Unit. (2014). Equality in higher education: statistical report 2014. Part 2: students. London: Equality Change UnitGoogle Scholar
- Gelbar, N., Smith, I., & Reichow, B. (2014). Systematic review of articles describing experience and supports of individuals with Autism enrolled in college and university programs. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(10), 2593–2601. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2135-5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Higher Education Statistics Agency. (2016). Students in higher education institutions: Students, qualifiers and staff data tables. Retrieved 19th July 2016, 2016, from http://www.hesa.ac.uk/index.php/content/view/1973/239/.
- James, A. I. (2014). Cross-age mentoring to support A-level pupils’ transition into higher education and undergraduate students’ employability. Psychology Teaching Review: Special Issue: Pedagogical Action Research, 20(2), 79Google Scholar
- Mentoring and Befriending Foundation. (2011). National peer mentoring anti-bullying pilot 2008–10: A report setting out the main findings from the national peer mentoring anti-bullying pilot 2008–10. London: Mentoring and Befriending FoundationGoogle Scholar
- Simonoff, E., Pickles, A., Charman, T., Chandler, S., Loucas, T., & Baird, G. (2008). Psychiatric disorders in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Prevalence, comorbidity, and associated factors in a population-derived sample. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 47(8), 921–929. doi: 10.1097/CHI.0b013e318179964f.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Smith, P. K., & Watson, D. (2004). Evaluation of the CHIPS (ChildLine in Partnership with Schools) programme. Research report RR570. Nottingham: Department for Education and Skills.Google Scholar
- Stansfeld, S., Clark, C.., Bebbington, P., King, M., Jenkins, R., & Hinchliffe, S. (2016). Common mental disorders: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014.Google Scholar
- Thompson, F., & Smith, P. K. (2011). The use and effectiveness of anti-bullying strategies in schools. Research Report DFE-RR098. London: Department for Education.Google Scholar
- White, S., Elias, R., Salinas, C., Capriola, N., Conner, C., Asselin, S., ... Getzel, E. (2016). Students with autism spectrum disorder in college: Results from a preliminary mixed methods needs analysis. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 56, 29–40. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2016.05.010.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Wu, C., Tseng, L., An, C., Chen, H., Chan, Y., Shih, C., & Zhuo, S. (2014). Do individuals with autism lack a sense of humor? A study of humor comprehension, appreciation, and styles among high school students with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8(10), 1386–1393. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2014.07.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar