In schools, Autistic students can often feel isolated and have low self esteem. Our mentoring programs build a community around Autistic students which celebrates their individual strengths.
why i can network?
There is a pressing need for increasing Autistic-led support networks around our Autistic children and youth. ABS data (2018) shows 34.2% unemployment among Autistics – 3 times higher than that of people with a disability and 8 times that of those without a disability. 77.7% of Autistics were also found to experience difficulty at their school/place of learning: the main challenges being fitting in socially, learning difficulties and communication difficulties. I CAN programs directly address these challenges by driving a localised rethink of Autism.
According to ABS data, the main challenges for Autistics in education are as follows:
- Difficulty sitting (16%)
- Sports participation (18%)
- Intellectual difficulties (27%)
- Communication difficulties (52%)
- Learning difficulties (55%)
- Fitting in socially (60%)
I CAN Network Ltd is Australia’s largest Autistic-led organisation run predominantly by Autistic professionals. Every day we are demonstrating our purpose: to prove what Autistics CAN do.
We offer mentoring programs which can be customised to suit the needs of any school or community. We have created the programs in order to connect our young Autistic people with each other and the world around them through messages of self-confidence, acceptance, pride and social networking.
our outcomes framework
The I CAN program empowers Autistic young people to develop social, emotional and leadership skills across several years. Autistic teenagers who have participated in a full year program (Stage 1) can choose to progress to ‘Stage Two’ in which they are given more leadership opportunities during mentoring sessions.
It is absolutely imperative for Autistic students to have a safe space where they can express themselves and celebrate their interests. Many Autistic young people have experienced education as a system which focuses on their challenges, not necessarily their strengths. I CAN mentoring sessions change the paradigm: we leverage the strengths and interests of Autistic students to build up their confidence. It is this strength-based approach which is driving a positive rethink of Autism. Our results suggest that this approach is working.
what success looks like
I CAN programs aim to enable young people on the Autism Spectrum to thrive and to be accepted. A 2016/2017 research report by the Centre for Health and Social Research (CHaSR) explored the impact of the I CAN program on three major constructs of student benefit; self-acceptance, social connectedness and optimism. This report can be made available to any members of school leadership who wish to know more about the impact and benefit of the I CAN program. This report showed that ‘student feedback was overwhelmingly positive’.
benefits for students
The I CAN program can achieve the following for Autistic students:
- Students make friends in a safe and comfortable environment.
- Embrace self-acceptance and Autistic pride
- Experience increases in self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Connect with Autistic mentors as role models.
- Share coping strategies for regulating emotions
- Students learn to self-advocate by empowering themselves and each other
- A sense of optimism towards the future.
our program complements Australian curriculum
I CAN mentoring programs support students to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens. The importance of these capabilities has been laid out by the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority (ACARA). The values to which the I CAN Network holds itself and the contents of our mentoring modules are congruent with ACARA’s general capabilities, specifically personal and social capabilities.