Experiences of parents of specialist peer mentored autistic university students

Published February 2021


Parents continue to support autistic university students, and consequently, experience considerable stress. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of parents of specialist peer mentored university students and to examine these using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) as a theoretical framework. Thirteen semi-structured interviews were completed and analysed using thematic analysis. Directive content analysis linked the data to the ICF core set for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Five interrelated themes emerged: The mentoring relationship is a facilitator, Developing skills for university, Mentoring changes lives, Mentoring is not a substitute for other supports, and University is an emotional rollercoaster. Specialist peer mentoring was linked to Activity and Participation (44%) and Environmental factors (32%) of the ICF core set for ASD. These results add to the specialist peer mentoring evidence-base, and indicate perceived benefits for autistic university students and their parents. An unintended consequence was that parents broadened their participation in activities.
Thompson, C., Milbourn, B., Taylor, J.L., Falkmer, T., Bölte, S., Evans, K. & Girdler, S. (2021). Experiences of parents of specialist peer mentored autistic university students. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, early online. doi: 10.1080/17518423.2021.1886190

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