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Autism and Related Conditions Mentoring (CSMP)

The Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program (CSMP) is a specialised peer support mentoring program specifically designed for students on the autism spectrum and related conditions.

Request a mentor

For more information contact the CSMP Program Managers at autism.mentoring@curtin.edu.au.

My first year

“Going into university for the first time was challenging and scary yet exciting, all on its own. Struggling with new situations, structure and community made the mentoring program such a vital safety net and building bridge in becoming my own person and making a name for myself. Although I went into university with outside friends on the other side of campus, the program gave me a mentor that helped me make and keep friends in my degree and yet support me with regular conversations, meetings and information. I've been a part of programs like this before and nothing compares to the support, care and thrive for my success, it offers.”

CSMP mentee

Hear what our mentees and mentors say about the program.

On this page:

Program information

CSMP mentors help guide and support their mentees to reach their academic 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 is eligible for support through the program. Students must be registered with Disability Services to participate.

Registering with Disability Services may also lead to a Curtin Access Plan (CAP) being devised. A CAP allows a student to have specific accommodations and modifications made to their study program according to their individual, documented needs (eg. use of laptop in exam situations, extensions etc.).

CSMP appreciates the support of: AASQAAutism West, Norton Gold Fields Limited and Cannings Purple.

What is a mentor?

Mentors are successful postgraduate students from Occupational Therapy, Social Work, Psychology, Speech Pathology, Engineering and Computer Science. Your mentor will help you 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. They can assist you to locate and access services or groups on campus, and communicate to you what life is like as a student.

What does your mentor expect from you?

  • Respond to every contact attempt as soon as possible.
  • Contact or meet your mentor at agreed times (and locations on campus if applicable) during the semester.
  • Advise your mentor by email/text/phone of any unavoidable changes to arrangements at least 24 hours in advance.
  • Be open to try different techniques to improve difficulties you may be experiencing.
  • Communicate any difficulties you may be experiencing to your mentor (or program managers if required).

How does the program work?

  1. Register with Disability Services which helps 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.

Who can be a CSMP mentor?

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

What is expected from CSMP mentors?

Becoming a mentor involves:

  • Participating in an online START Mentor training workshop and a CSMP specific training workshop.
  • Organising weekly communications/meetings with your mentee during semester focusing on their unique requirements. This could include:
    • listening to your mentee's concerns, provide 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.
  • Submitting fortnightly timesheets to access appropriate remuneration.
  • Participating in the evaluation process of the program.

Sign up

For more information or to register your interest as a mentor, contact the CSMP Program Managers at autism.mentoring@curtin.edu.au.

Program patron

Professor Lyn Beazley AO FTSE Professor Lyn Beazley AO FTSE, Patron

Professor Lyn Beazley AO FTSE

After graduating from Oxford and Edinburgh Universities, Professor Lyn Beazley built an internationally renowned research team in Neuroscience that focused on recovery from brain damage, much of her investigations undertaken as Winthrop Professor at The University of Western Australia. Currently Lyn is the Sir Walter Murdoch Professor of Science at Murdoch University.

As Chief Scientist of Western Australia from 2006 to 2013, Lyn advised the Western Australian Government on science, innovation and technology as well as fulfilling the role of science ambassador locally, nationally and internationally.

In 2009, Lyn was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

More recently, Lyn was inducted into the inaugural Western Australian Women’s Hall of Fame and was elected as a Fellow of the College of Educators. In 2012, Lyn became the second recipient of the Governor’s Award for Giving, in recognition of her enthusiastic philanthropy through her outreach activities promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the Western Australian community.

In 2013, Lyn was honoured to be inducted into the Western Australian Science Hall of Fame and to become a Companion of the Institute of Engineers. Lyn was amazed and delighted to be named the WA Australian of the Year for 2015.

Program ambassadors

Cameron Smith Cameron Smith, CSMP Mentee and Ambassador

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 University in 2014 to study a double Physics and Engineering degree he was awarded 3 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 5th and final year of his double degree, and has been a mentee with the Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program since it’s 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 i.e. Bureau of Meteorology and Deloitte have both offered Cameron paid work over the 2017 summer break. This bodes well for future career opportunities once his studies are complete.

Jacinta Reynolds Jacinta Reynolds, CSMP Graduate and Ambassador

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 girl’s 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 University after attending several open days and talking to the various disability officers.

Jacinta enrolled at Curtin University 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’s 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.

Information for staff

All staff can play an important role in supporting students at Curtin. Download best practise guides from Autism & Uni for information on how you can better support your students.

Information for other tertiary institutions

A Specialist Mentoring Generic Module based on the CSMP program is freely available at Peer Mentoring Program for University Students on the Autism Spectrum. Additional information is also available at Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Higher Education [PDF, 5.3MB].

How to support the program

Norton Gold Fields has been a strong supporter of the program, and played an important role in setting up the common room on Curtin's Bentley Campus.

If you or your organisation would also like to support the program, contact the CSMP Program Managers at autism.mentoring@curtin.edu.au.