Does ‘mentoring' offer effective support to autistic adults?: a mixed methods pilot study

Nicola Martin, Damian Milton, Tara Sims, Gemma Dawkins, Simon Baron-Cohen, Richard Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The Research Autism Cygnet Mentoring project was a two-year pilot study, completed in 2016, which aimed to develop, trial and evaluate a mentoring scheme designed with input from autistic people, their families and supporters. Design/methodology/approach: The mentoring scheme involved 12 matched pairs (mentor/mentee) meeting once per week for one hour, over a six month period. All mentors attended a training day, led by the principles of Personal Construct Theory (PCT) and an emancipatory research ethos. The project and training involved significant involvement of autistic people in both its design and delivery. Findings: Participants on the autism spectrum found their mentoring experience very helpful in enabling them to progress toward self-identified goals, and mentees felt empowered by the person-centred ethos and methods employed on the project. However, a number of aspects of the mentoring project have been identified for requiring further investigation, including: caution over offering mentoring without formal structures, boundary setting, supervision, flexibility, and the matching of mentees with mentors. Originality/value: The project has highlighted the potential benefits of time-limited goal-orientated mentoring and the negligible evidence base underpinning current mentoring practice with adults on the autism spectrum. In order for the project to realise its emancipatory aim, there is a need for a large-scale quantitative study and a health-economics analysis to provide the necessary evidence base for mentoring to be recommended as a cost-effective intervention with clear benefits for individual wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-239
Number of pages11
JournalAdvances in Autism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2017


  • Autism
  • Mentoring
  • Personal Construct Theory
  • Wellbeing
  • Emancipatory Research


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