Development and Initial Outcomes of a Mentoring Program Designed to Support Autistic Adolescents and Adults

Rebekah L. Hudock, Kalli B. Kremer, Naomi Kaplan, Emily Goldberg, Jeannette Dempsey Austin, Lila Khan, Lindsey M. Weiler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Autistic individuals frequently experience mental health concerns, and there are few strengths-based programs available within community settings. This study examined the initial outcomes of the Autism Mentorship Program (AMP), a mentoring program for autistic youth and adults. Methods: Fourteen autistic youth and 14 autistic adults were paired in one-to-one mentoring relationships, and they met weekly for mentoring sessions. Seventeen parents of autistic youth also participated in this study. A mixed methods design was used to assess social and emotional outcomes and acceptability of AMP. Data were collected via online surveys and standardized rating scales before AMP, following eight weeks of programming, and following AMP. Data were analyzed using descriptive methods and Hedge’s g. Results: Results indicated strong uptake and satisfaction with the program and mentoring relationships. Mentee outcomes included increased pride in their autistic identities (g =.28) and improvements in self-awareness, social connectedness, and communication skills. Parents of mentees reported increases in quality of life (g =.49), life satisfaction (g =.60), and pride in autistic identity (g =.80) for their child. Mentors reported improvements in quality of life (g =.58), internalizing (g = −.12) and externalizing symptoms (g = -.06), leadership, communication skills, social connectedness, and social skills (g =.19). Conclusions: Initial results indicate that AMP has the potential to benefit autistic mentors and mentees. Additional research is needed regarding mentoring for autistic individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Development
  • Intervention
  • Mental health
  • Mentoring

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