Autism and related conditions mentoring

The Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program (CSMP) is one of the first and largest peer support mentoring programs in Australia specifically designed for neurodiverse students with an autism spectrum or related condition.

CSMP Mentors are successful and experienced honours and postgraduate students from a variety of faculties. In partnership, CSMP mentors help guide and support their mentees to progress their academic, employment and personal goals.

CSMP also provides a weekly social group (CSG). CSG is run by the mentees supported by mentors during the semester to help develop friendships, to discuss relevant issues and enhance students’ sense of belonging at Curtin.

The CSMP is a separate program to the New to Curtin Mentoring Program.

How to get a mentor

What is a mentor?

Mentors are successful postgraduate students and final year undergraduate Honours Psychology students. Your mentor will help enhance your student experience by supporting you to gain confidence, independence and self-advocacy during your time at Curtin. Your mentor will also provide targeted support based on your individual needs and goals. They will work with you to develop strategies to successfully leverage your strengths and address any difficulties you experience during your academic and employment journey.

Who can get a mentor?

Any student who has been diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum or has a related condition that is diagnosed by a qualified health service provider that affects their ability to study successfully may be eligible for support through the program, once they have registered with AccessAbility Services.

How to get and keep a mentor?

  1. Register with Curtin AccessAbility Services to be referred to CSMP – see link: students.curtin.edu.au/personal-support/disability/register.
  2. You will receive an email from CSMP containing a CloudStor link. Read and complete the Mentee information and forms within CloudStor and respond as soon as possible to the email.
  3. If you are finding it difficult to complete the required forms, get help from CSMP or a support person. All information gathered is confidential and only used to help your mentor and CSMP Coordinators understand your individual profile and needs.
  4. Once you have completed and returned the Mentee forms to CSMP, you will then be allocated a mentor or put on our waitlist until a mentor becomes available. Only students with completed forms will be put on the waitlist. Places on the waitlist are organised according to the date the completed documentation is received.
  5. Meet with your mentor and/or CSMP Coordinator/s to begin the mentor/mentee relationship.
  6. Have contact with your mentor for approximately one hour per week or more during the teaching weeks of the semester, preferably face-to-face, but flexible depending on your needs and preferred communication methods.
  7. Have appropriate engagement with your mentor over the semester or your mentor may need to be reassigned to another student on the waiting list
  8. If your mentor/mentee relationship is not working or needs extra support, contact the CSMP Coordinator/s.

How to become a mentor

Who can be a CSMP mentor?

Strong performing postgraduate students studying Occupational Therapy, Psychology, Speech Pathology, Engineering, Computer Science and any other related course, and final year undergraduate Honours Psychology students are eligible to apply to become CSMP mentors.

CSMP mentors are paid for their mentoring work and gain valuable professional practice working with this population of neurodiverse students.

What is expected from CSMP mentors?

Becoming a mentor involves:

  • Ensuring you have a current Working With Children Check.
  • Participating in a CSMP specific one day training workshop prior to the academic year.
  • Mentoring at least two neurodiverse students over the academic year.
  • Attending regular one hour weekly CSMP mentor supervision meetings during the semester.
  • Attending CSG meetings when needed.
  • Providing succinct fortnightly reports outlining your involvement with your mentee/s.
  • Submitting fortnightly timesheets to ensure you are paid.
  • Organising weekly communications/meetings (approx. 1 hour) with your mentee focusing on their unique requirements. This could include:
    • Listening to your mentee’s concerns and providing support and guidance for overcoming challenges at university,
    • Guiding your mentee to connect with clubs, services and support that are on offer at Curtin to help them succeed socially, emotionally, and academically,
    • Providing strategies for organising and planning workloads, working within groups, giving presentations and improving their employability skills.
  • Participating in the evaluation process of the program.
  • Being reliable and regular in your contact and report writing as a duty of care measure to your mentee and the program.

Please note most mentoring work occurs mainly during the teaching weeks of the semester.

How to become a CSMP volunteer

Who can be a CSMP volunteer?

Strong performing undergraduate Psychology students in the second year of their course are eligible to apply to become CSMP volunteers.

Why be a CSMP volunteer?

  • To gain Curtin Extra Certificate recognition by completing the necessary hours plus required modules/journal reflection.
  • To be favourably considered if you eventually apply to become a CSMP mentor during your honours year or decide to undertake postgraduate studies.
  • To gain valuable professional practice and leadership experience supporting the implementation of a specialised mentoring program in a university setting.

How do CSMP volunteers work?

CSMP volunteers work in a collegial, supportive team environment to provide extra administration support to the program for approximately four hours per week during the teaching weeks of the semester.

How to apply to be a CSMP volunteer?

Email autism.mentoring@curtin.edu.au and provide a cover letter, recent resume and copy of your Curtin student ID card early in Semester Two to volunteer the following academic year.


More about CSMP, on ABC’s 7.30

CSMP was featured on ABC News Australia’s 7.30 Show. Watch the story to hear more about how and why the program started, and how it benefits participants.


Program ambassadors

Cameron Smith, CSMP Mentee and Ambassador

Cameron is an autistic student with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism.

He was accepted into the Comet Bay College ‘Gifted and Talented Program’ (GATE) at the start of high school in 2008, after being dux of his primary school and winning the PEAC Academic Excellence award.

On Australia day in 2009, he was presented with a ‘Certificate of Appreciation’ award from the Lord Mayor for inventing a children’s computer game and donating all the sale proceeds to charity. Cameron was also the school chess champion and captained the team’s win in the 2011 regional finals.

His high school years culminated with him graduating as dux of the school in 2013 and topping all his classes. For several years after graduating, he regularly provided voluntary tutoring to students struggling with maths, physics or engineering.

On application to Curtin University in 2014 to study a double physics and engineering degree, he was awarded three scholarships: the Curtin Principal’s Recommendation award, a BHP Engineering scholarship and the John De Laeter Physics scholarship. In 2015 he was also awarded a place on the Curtin University Vice-Chancellor’s List.

He has been a mentee with the Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program since its inception, and his first year at university, in 2014. He remained part of the program until the end of 2018 when he graduated with first class honours.

His involvement helped him build confidence and acquire mandatory industry work experience related to his degree. His mentor also assisted with his application to the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research for a summer scholarship in 2016, which he won.

Two previous work experience companies – the Bureau of Meteorology and Deloitte – both offered Cameron paid work over the 2017 summer break. This gave Cameron encouragement and hope for future career opportunities.

Cameron now works for BHP as a software engineer, where he has been since April 2019. The Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program as well as the AASQA program run by Professor Tele Tan were instrumental in providing the support and assistance required to help him prepare for and secure this position. He is now part of a team where he is thriving, valued and feels he can make a meaningful contribution.

After 2 years of employment and stringent saving, Cameron has also managed to reach another milestone by purchasing his first home.

Jacinta Reynolds, CSMP Graduate and Ambassador

Jacinta has a high functioning form of Autism called Asperger’s Syndrome.

Jacinta was diagnosed with Asperger’s at 14 while at an all-girls boarding school in the United Kingdom. Whilst the school was accommodating and accepting, Jacinta still struggled with school and the interactions required. Eventually her father’s job moved her from her school in the United Kingdom and her home in Chicago in the United States to Perth where she was enrolled at John XXIII College with her cousins.

The Learning Enrichment Program at John XXIII College took Jacinta in and under its program, support workers and counselors, she thrived at school and her marks began to soar. When in year 11, Jacinta decided to study at Curtin after attending several open days and talking to the various disability officers.

Jacinta enrolled at Curtin in 2013 with a Headmaster’s Recommendation Scholarship and started her studies towards her multiple disciplinary science degree in the hopes of becoming a science communicator. Even with the support however Jacinta began to decline in her social interactions and failed to make friends.

In 2014, Jacinta switched degrees to start a degree in physics majoring in astrophysics and joined the Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program (CSMP) in its first year following a mix up in mobile numbers. She is very grateful that this occurred because with the help of her mentors and the safe space the program provided, she was able to succeed at university and graduate with her bachelor’s degree at the end of 2016, also having won the Curtin STAR Scholarship in 2014 and the Summer Physics and Astronomy Scholarship in 2014.

During her time in the CSMP, Jacinta did many presentations for the program and ended up becoming a mentor to a couple of school aged children on the spectrum. She also began volunteer work with Scitech Discovery Centre before being offered a casual role in 2016.

Jacinta worked at Scitech casually and when she graduated from Curtin, moved to full time hours under her casual contract. In 2018 Jacinta was offered a full-time job at Optika Solutions and currently still works there managing the communications around their product offerings and case studies and assisting in the implementation of various strategies across the business.

During her time at Scitech, Jacinta was able to move out of home and in with a flat mate, a year later she bought her own flat and a year after that adopted her first cat who has provided Jacinta with endless snuggles and entertainment. She also took up martial arts and sword fighting classes at Ursa Major HEMA Academy. Her involvement in the club was what allowed her to meet her current partner 2 years ago, and they moved in together earlier this year.

Finally, Jacinta’s advocacy for those on the Spectrum and her constant involvement in the CSMP and in various panel discussions surrounding Autism caught the attention and eye of Spectrum Space. They invited her to join their board of directors in 2018, a role she accepted with much enthusiasm. Since then, she has spoken at more events, advocating for those on the spectrum, and is looking forward to doing more events this year.

Jacinta feels strongly that her current achievements and her confidence to be an advocate for those on the spectrum stems from the support of the CSMP program, and she looks forward to continuing to supporting this initiative well into the future so that her peers can have access to the same success and opportunities she did.