Recognition of our Research on Autism and Mentoring

Recently in the “Chronicles for Evidence Based Mentoring” — an online source for sharing new findings and ideas about youth mentoring — there was an article written that highlighted PYD’s recent research on the benefits of mentoring for youth with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The article was written by Marty Martinez, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Mentoring Partnership, and it was titled Inclusive Programs Improve Quality for all Youth.

You can find an except from the article below the jump, or you can go to this link to read the entire post.

In the fall of 2011, PYD received funds from the Deborah Monroe Noonan Memorial Research Fund to conduct a pilot study, in collaboration with Tufts Medical Center, titled Partners Exploring Education and Recreation (PEER). This program included nine college students serving as mentors for teenagers with Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism over a period of six months. Nine youth ages 14-18, met with their mentor once a week for two hours at a local Boys & Girls Club (BGC). Pre and post intervention measures were taken to evaluate their self-esteem, social anxiety and quality of life. The analysis of measures at the end of the program revealed extremely positive results and showed that the presence of the caring adult mentor made a strong impact.

After just six months of mentoring, youth registered improvements on the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Pediatrics Quality of Life Questionnaire, and Social Worries Questionnaire. The three evaluation tools were chosen to look at how mentoring could help with self-esteem, overall quality of life, and the social comfort levels of youth. Though this sample is small and not statistically significant, the positive trend towards improvement suggests the benefits of carrying out a larger study to assess the impact. Further, even after the program had formally ended, eight out of nine mentees chose to stay involved with mentoring, highlighting participants’ enthusiasm for their experience. The reported connectedness mentees experienced with their mentor supports the evidence that often times, for individuals with ASDs, socialization is not inhibited by a lack of desire for social relationships but rather a need for extra support around developing them (Bauminger, 2003).

Mentoring is a key strategy in helping young people learn how to develop healthy and nurturing relationships. Youth with ASDs are no different in needing that resource.

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