Mentoring

Effective mentoring draws on shared experience.  I know what it’s like to be considered “a little different.”  And since I’ve been there and overcome the challenges young people on the spectrum face, I can give them the informed and sympathetic advice they need to clear life’s most intimidating hurdles.

Unlike therapy or counselling, mentoring relies on making a personal connection.  Whereas those traditional approaches are bound by home or office environments, I take young people out into the community, where they can learn from real world experience.  For I believe where a young person learns life skills is just as important as what that person's learning.

For instance, let’s say a teen wants to talk about a favorite video game instead of trying new things.  A therapist, when faced with that curve ball, would likely tell the young person “no, that’s not what we’re here for today.”  This harsh reply turns the session into a battle of wills.  Instead, I take what the therapist would consider a bothersome distraction and turn it into a powerful motivator by replying:  “I’d love to hear about your favorite game.  Let’s talk about it at that cool café down the street!”  By introducing a normally intimidating new environment in the context of a familiar topic the young person's already excited about, barriers are broken and comfort zones expand.

My philosophy is to open doors.  I can’t force anyone to do anything they don’t want to do.  But I can give each person I mentor the opportunity to try new things and let them decide for themselves if they would like to step through and try a new experience.  If I open enough doors, eventually everyone steps through.

To open a door is to provide an opportunity to grow with the support of a trusted friend.  With relaxed and friendly guidance, new experiences feel much safer to try.  For instance, I might tell a client “I have some friends coming over for dinner.  Would you like to join us?”  When making such an invitation, I always make sure to let the client know he or she is in complete control of whether or not what I’m offering sounds like a fun thing to try—without pressure or consequences for refusal.   If my client decides dinner sounds appealing and decides to tag along, it’s a great opportunity to guide them through the nervous excitement of a new social experience, while carefully balancing the challenges of that experience to match their ability and needs.  If my client declines the invitation to dinner, I drop the subject that day, but continue to offer invitations down the line and, if necessary, modify that invitation to say “I have a friend coming for dinner” (rather than multiple friends), so it sounds a little safer to step out of the comfort zone at a more gradual pace.

I mentor adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum on a one-on-one basis, so each young person gets the individualized attention he or she needs.  I introduce them to a wide range of fun, life-expanding outings (gaming events, live music performances, and eating out in interesting places—just to name a few) which painlessly provide face-to-face social interactions, build social skills, and ultimately foster independence.

My goal is to help young people find a place in the adult world and achieve their maximum level of independence.

Services

Mentoring

Mentoring autistic kids and adults.

Presentations

Speaking and presentations on autism.

Consulting

Family consulting on empowering autistic individuals.