Too Intelligent for Ones Own Good: Social Inclusion for Young People with Asperger Syndrome

By Eli Ristevski and Carole Burkett.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper will discuss the use of a mentoring model to promote social inclusion and improved mental health and well-being for young people with Asperger’s Syndrome in a rural community in Victoria, Australia. The mentoring program uses information and communication technology (ICT) based activities as a vehicle to examine citizenship and civic engagement for young people with disabilities. Evidence suggests that young people reporting poor social connectedness are more likely to experience poorer mental health outcomes. Young people with Asperger’s Syndrome have significant difficulty with social interactions, understanding social cues and experience difficulties with change. This group of young people is also often highly intelligent around a specific area however, the interest becomes all consuming. Cues that the young person is boring someone with the depth and detail of their knowledge pass them by. Their peers tend to avoid them, and they become very hurt and frustrated by their lack of social success. The mentoring program facilitates engagement in the community by matching a young person and a mentor with similar interests, to work together using ICT to nurture the young person’s specific interest. Through this process, the mentor supports the young person to improve their personal socialisation skills and build and expand their networks in the community. The program recommends sustainable models of support for young people with a disability and contributes to the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) mental health and well-being framework.

Keywords: Social Inclusion, Young People, Disability, Mental Health

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 5, pp.57-66. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 565.479KB).

Dr. Eli Ristevski

Lecturer, Department of Rural and Indigenous Health, Monash University, Moe, Victoria, Australia

Eli has a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the School of Public Health, Latrobe University. Over the last 10 years Eli has been involved in curriculum development and taught extensively in postgraduate and undergraduate education programs to students in medicine, nursing and health sciences. Eli has taught in the sociology of health and illness, disability, the principles of public health, rural health issues and practice and research methodology. Eli has expertise and skills in research methodology and in addition to teaching research methods to postgraduate students is involved in providing research supervision to PhD candidates and Masters students. Eli is currently involved in a number of research projects which look at access to services and psychosocial support for women with breast cancer in the region.

Carole Burkett

Associate Lecturer and PhD candidate, Monash University Department of Rural and Indigenous Health, Monash University, Moe, Victoria, Australia

Carole is currently involved in curriculum development and teaching in postgraduate and undergraduate education programs (rural health policy and practice) to students in medicine, nursing and health sciences. She is also undertaking a Doctor of Philosophy at the School of Rural Health, Monash University. Her research is concerned with how changes in service provision have influenced and shaped the lives of people with an intellectual disability, their families and communities in the Latrobe Valley. Previously, Carole has worked in a range of community based services for a period of 20 years. Her work has included coordinating the development and delivery of adult education programs with the Social and Community Services sector in aged, disability and youth/child. Planning and developing a range of residential and day placement options for people with an intellectual disability relocating from institutions to community living, and management of residential accommodation services for people with complex support needs, including client case management and behaviour intervention services. Carole has also provided consultancy to community based disability services in the review of existing services and to help determine opportunities for improvement and the development of operational plans.

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