Link October 2018 Volume 27 Issue 5 - Page 10

news Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program Managers Theresa Kidd (left) and Jasmine McDonald (right). Autism mentors in Malaysia C urtin University has showcased its mentoring program for students on the autism spectrum at the Autism Initiatives Malaysia symposium held in Kuala Lumpur recently. Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program Managers Dr Jasmine McDonald and Ms Theresa Kidd were E xperts recently spoke to an eager audience at UNSW Sydney about the opportunities and threats of robotics in the disability and care sector. The UNSW (University of New support students to complete their South Wales) Grand Challenges university studies.” event, delivered in partnership Ms Kidd, a Clinical Psychologist, with UNSW Sydney’s Disability discussed the link between autism and Innovation Institute, posed an anxiety with research showing at least important question – will robots 50 per cent of people on the spectrum help or threaten disability care? experienced at least one, often more, UNSW’s Dr Eduardo Benitez co-occurring anxiety disorders. Sandoval, Scientia Professor in “It’s necessary to better the Faculty of Art and Design, invited to present at the two-day understand how anxiety is told a packed audience about his international conference, which experienced and expressed by passion for social robotics and considered how people with autism people with autism in order to the socially interactive robots can transition to further education be able to offer greater support helping people with disability, and employment. throughout the mentoring process, Dr McDonald said their presentation outlined how Curtin’s program had been designed to meet and this program is a key step in doing that,” Ms Kidd said. “Through this program, we have the individualised needs of students found that students not only feel on the spectrum. supported but confident in their “We know from the success of the Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program that university students with autism journey through university and into the workforce beyond that.” Currently, 67 students with autism consider the support they receive are being mentored through Curtin’s from trained, specialist mentors as an program by 48 postgraduate students. important tool to help them navigate The Curtin Specialist Mentoring university life,” Dr McDonald said. “With an increased prevalence 10 they search for meaningful ways to Robotics: opportunity or threat? Program, which was introduced in 2014, is now available free on the of students with autism entering Autism CRC website for other university, showcasing programs like tertiary institutions to download Curtin’s to an international audience and implement. at the Autism Initiatives Malaysia symposium helps other countries as news Tom Shakespeare, Professor of Disa bility Research at the University of East Anglia and UNSW’s Dr Eduardo Benitez Sandoval, Scientia Professor in the Faculty of Art and Design. Image courtesy Jacquie Manning.