Autism and related conditions mentoring

The Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program (CSMP) is a peer support mentoring program specifically designed for students with an autism spectrum or related condition.

CSMP mentors help guide and support their mentees to reach their academic, employment and personal goals. CSMP also provides a weekly social group during the semester to help develop friendships and enhance students’ sense of belonging at Curtin.

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. Please register with AccessAbility Services to be referred to CSMP.

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 is available to provide support based on your individual needs and work with you to develop strategies to successfully address any difficulties you identify, as well as work towards your employability goals.

To get a mentor:

  1. Register with AccessAbility Services to ensure you have as much support as possible from Curtin.
  2. We will then match you to a postgraduate peer mentor.
  3. You will have weekly contact with your mentor for one hour per week or more during the semester, preferably face to face, but flexible depending on your needs.

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.

What is expected from CSMP mentors?

Becoming a mentor involves:

  • Participating in a CSMP specific training workshop prior to the academic year.
  • Organising weekly communications/meetings with your mentee during semester 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 and giving presentations.
  • Attending weekly CSMP mentor supervision meetings with the program managers during the teaching weeks of semester.
  • Attending Curtin Social Group (CSG) meetings during the teaching weeks of semester (when convenient).
  • Providing a weekly report outlining your involvement with your mentee.
  • Participating in the evaluation process of the program.

How to become a CSMP volunteer

Who can be a CSMP volunteer?

Strong performing undergraduate Psychology students in the final two years of their course are eligible to apply to become CSMP volunteers. CSMP volunteers can gain Curtin Extra Certificate recognition by completing the necessary hours (Level One) or extra hours plus required modules / journal reflection (Level Two). They will also be favourably considered if they apply to become a CSMP mentor and decide to undertake postgraduate studies. CSMP volunteers gain professional practice experience supporting the implementation of a specialised mentoring program in a university setting.

What is expected from CSMP volunteers?

  • Participating in a CSMP specific training workshop prior to the academic year.
  • Working in a team environment to provide various administration support to the program for about four hours per week during the teaching weeks of the semester.

Hear what our participants have to say:

Program patron: Professor Lyn Beazley AO FTSE

Professor Beazley is a renowned neuroscientist who was the Chief Scientist of Western Australia from 2006 to 2013 and the WA Australian of the Year for 2015. Learn more about Professor Beazley.

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. He still regularly provides voluntary tutoring to students struggling with maths, physics or engineering.

On application to Curtin 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 is now in the fifth and final year of his double degree, and has been a mentee with the Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program since its inception, and his first year at university, in 2014.

His involvement has 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.

Encouragingly, two previous work experience companies – the Bureau of Meteorology and Deloitte – both offered Cameron paid work over the 2017 summer break. This bodes well for future career opportunities once his studies are complete.

Cameron provided this biography, using his own preferred terminology regarding autism.

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 counsellors, 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 Head Master’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 in its first year following a mix up in 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 degree in 2017, also having won the Curtin STAR Scholarship in 2014 and the Summer Physics and Astronomy Scholarship in 2014.

Jacinta is currently working at Scitech as one of their many floor presenters and admin staff and recently got a new position within the team as a lab designer in Scitech’s CSIRO lab for physics. Jacinta is also a current Curtin Ambassador for the Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program and sits on their committee helping to improve the program she considers one of the best things that has happened to her in her entire educational journey.

Other major achievements outside of the education bracket for Jacinta include finally feeling ready to move out of home, becoming a mentor to a young student struggling with his autism, and getting ready to complete the manuscript for a fiction novel that she intends to publish. None of which would have been possible without the support of the CSMP program during her time at university.

Jacinta provided this biography, using her own preferred terminology regarding autism.