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      Becoming a Mentor: The Impact of Training and the Experience of Mentoring University Students on the Autism Spectrum

      1 , 2 , 1 , 2 , 2 , 3 , *

      PLoS ONE

      Public Library of Science

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          Abstract

          While it is widely recognised that the number of young adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disoders (ASD) is increasing, there is currently limited understanding of effective support for the transition to adulthood. One approach gaining increasing attention in the university sector is specialised peer mentoring. The aim of this inductive study was to understand the impact of peer mentor training on seven student mentors working with university students with an ASD. Kirkpatrick’s model framed a mixed methods evaluation of the mentors’ training and description of their experience. Overall, the training was well received by the mentors, who reported on average a 29% increase in their ASD knowledge following the training. Results from the semi-structured interviews conducted three months after the training, found that mentors felt that the general ASD knowledge they gained as part of their training had been essential to their role. The mentors described how their overall experience had been positive and reported that the training and support provided to them was pivotal to their ability to succeed in as peer mentors to students with ASD. This study provides feedback in support of specialist peer-mentoring programs for university students and can inform recommendations for future programs and research.

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          Most cited references 8

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          Three approaches to qualitative content analysis.

          Content analysis is a widely used qualitative research technique. Rather than being a single method, current applications of content analysis show three distinct approaches: conventional, directed, or summative. All three approaches are used to interpret meaning from the content of text data and, hence, adhere to the naturalistic paradigm. The major differences among the approaches are coding schemes, origins of codes, and threats to trustworthiness. In conventional content analysis, coding categories are derived directly from the text data. With a directed approach, analysis starts with a theory or relevant research findings as guidance for initial codes. A summative content analysis involves counting and comparisons, usually of keywords or content, followed by the interpretation of the underlying context. The authors delineate analytic procedures specific to each approach and techniques addressing trustworthiness with hypothetical examples drawn from the area of end-of-life care.
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            Prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions: UK school-based population study.

            Recent reports estimate the prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions in the UK to be 1%. To use different methods to estimate the prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions, including previously undiagnosed cases, in Cambridgeshire. We carried out a survey of autism-spectrum conditions using the Special Educational Needs (SEN) register. A diagnosis survey was distributed to participating schools to be handed out to parents of all children aged 5-9 years. The mainstream primary school population was screened for unknown cases. The prevalence estimates generated from the SEN register and diagnosis survey were 94 per 10 000 and 99 per 10 000 respectively. A total of 11 children received a research diagnosis of an autism-spectrum condition following screening and assessment. The ratio of known:unknown cases is about 3:2 (following statistical weighting procedures). Taken together, we estimate the prevalence to be 157 per 10 000, including previously undiagnosed cases. This study has implications for planning diagnostic, social and health services.
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              Epidemiology of autism spectrum disorders in adults in the community in England.

              To our knowledge, there is no published information on the epidemiology of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in adults. If the prevalence of autism is increasing, rates in older adults would be expected to be lower than rates among younger adults. To estimate the prevalence and characteristics of adults with ASD living in the community in England. A stratified, multiphase random sample was used in the third national survey of psychiatric morbidity in adults in England in 2007. Survey data were weighted to take account of study design and nonresponse so that the results were representative of the household population. General community (ie, private households) in England. Adults (people 16 years or older). Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Module 4 in phase 2 validated against the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised and Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders in phase 3. A 20-item subset of the Autism-Spectrum Quotient self-completion questionnaire was used in phase 1 to select respondents for phase 2. Respondents also provided information on sociodemographics and their use of mental health services. Of 7461 adult participants who provided a complete phase 1 interview, 618 completed phase 2 diagnostic assessments. The weighted prevalence of ASD in adults was estimated to be 9.8 per 1000 (95% confidence interval, 3.0-16.5). Prevalence was not related to the respondent's age. Rates were higher in men, those without educational qualifications, and those living in rented social (government-financed) housing. There was no evidence of increased use of services for mental health problems. Conducting epidemiologic research on ASD in adults is feasible. The prevalence of ASD in this population is similar to that found in children. The lack of an association with age is consistent with there having been no increase in prevalence and with its causes being temporally constant. Adults with ASD living in the community are socially disadvantaged and tend to be unrecognized.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                12 April 2016
                2016
                : 11
                : 4
                Affiliations
                [1 ]School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
                [2 ]Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism CRC), Long Pocket, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
                [3 ]School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
                Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, JAPAN
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: JH GS. Performed the experiments: JH GS. Analyzed the data: JH GS SG. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: JH GS SG. Wrote the paper: JH GS SG.

                Article
                PONE-D-15-37584
                10.1371/journal.pone.0153204
                4829264
                27070418
                © 2016 Hamilton et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 2, Pages: 13
                Product
                Funding
                Funded by: Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism CRC)
                Award ID: 3.032RS
                This work was supported by the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism CRC) [project number 3.032RS], established and supported under the Australian Government's Cooperative Research Centres Program. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Categories
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                Custom metadata
                Underlying data is in the form of interview transcripts and questionnaires. Due to the small number of students involved in this project and the vulnerable, and potentially identifiable population they were working with, ethics clearance does not allow for open access to the raw transcripts and questionnaires. We can, however, consider individual requests for excerpts from the raw data on an individual basis. Requests for these excerpts should be sent to A/Prof Sonya Girdler ( sonya.girdler@ 123456curtin.edu.au ).

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