Understanding the essential components and experiences of youth with autism spectrum disorders in peer mentorship programmes during the transition to adulthood: A qualitative meta‐ethnography
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Youth with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often require additional supports during the period of transition to from high school to post-secondary education or career paths. Peer mentorship (PM) programmes create opportunities to support youth with ASD in identifying their personal, academic and career goals after graduating from high school; however, there is limited insight about the components of these programmes that are valued by both participants and peer mentors and that are perceived to contribute to the overall success of a programme in achieving their goals. Our objective was to identify, describe and synthesize the components of PM programmes valued by youth with ASD and their peer mentors, as well as to document their experiences in these transitional support services. A meta-ethnography was conducted to synthesize qualitative and mixed methods studies of PM programmes for youth with ASD. A systematic search of seven databases yielded 142 nonduplicate articles. Data analysis and synthesis involved (1) extraction of raw data; (2) extraction of study authors' interpretations, followed by inductive coding; (3) synthesis of key themes and (4) schematic diagram development to illustrate the relationship of themes. Ten studies of PM programmes from Canada (2), United States (4), Australia (3) and United Kingdom (1) were included. Extracted data reflected experiences of 131 mentees and 82 mentors. The essential programme components identified were (1) mentorship, (2) skill building, (3) peer group and (4) facilitating transition. PM characterized by clear communication and connection between mentors and mentees was valuable to the success of the programme. Peer mentors played an essential role to facilitate the positive experiences that mentees had with programme components, including interactions with peer groups. Successful PM programmes created a safe environment for mentees to practice skills and helped mentees gain confidence to expand their roles to take leadership in their learning.
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