The ANSWER Training and Mentorship Team is comprised of two Mentorship and Training Directors.
The Directors will contribute to AIR-P's ANSWER initiative by creating and managing a comprehensive mentorship and training program for early-career autistic researchers (defined as within 10 years post highest degree completed: Ph.D/Psy.D/MD*) and autistic community members. These roles encompass developing a formal mentorship process for early-career autistic researchers and autistic community members, designing curriculum, arranging training opportunities, creating surveys to identify the needs and expertise of mentors and mentees, and collaborating with training programs such as the Canadian Neurodevelopmental Research Training Platform (CanNRT) and Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program. The directors will mentor and provide guidance and support to other autistic researchers within the network, helping them navigate their roles and responsibilities in the network and within academia.
They will also create and manage two training tracks: one to provide Research 101 training for autistic community members and another to offer training in key content areas, career development, and mentorship for autistic academic researchers and clinicians. The goal is to empower individuals and researchers on the autism spectrum, bolster their competitiveness in the job market, and foster their self-determined personal and professional development.
*Other degrees will be considered if the researcher’s experience/goals particularly align with our work
Description of the two training tracks:
- For autistic community members to receive Research 101 training (see Ryan, Fletcher-Watson and/or training created by AIR-P’s Croen/Massolo)
- For autistic academic researchers or clinicians to receive training in important content areas (e.g., CBPR, disability studies perspectives on autism, research methods, navigating academia as disabled scholars).
- Develop a formal mentorship process, establish mentor-mentee relationships, and provide guidance and support to early-career autistic researchers.
- Design and implement a training curriculum, including webinars, lectures, and additional resources, to enhance the skills and knowledge of autistic community members and autistic academic researchers/clinicians.
- Create surveys to assess the needs and expertise of mentors and mentees, ensuring effective matching and tailored support.
- Foster connections between AIR-P’s Autistic Scholars, ANSWER/AR, and the larger AIR-P network, through an annual in-person training event at the AUCD pre-conference, facilitating networking and training opportunities.
- Establish and manage an informal monthly support group for autistic academics, providing a space for connection, discussion, and peer support.
In collaboration with the Liasons, coordinate with external training programs and institutions, such as CanNRT and LEND, to facilitate collaborations and provide reciprocal training opportunities.
- People with autistic lived experience / self-advocates preferred
- Holds a doctorate (e.g. PhD, MD) or equivalent terminal degree OR Is actively enrolled in a degree-granting doctoral program.
- Have relevant experience and expertise in the field of autism, including a deep understanding of critical autism studies, neurodiversity, strength-based approaches, and neuro-affirming language.
- Knowledge of career development and mentorship principles within an academic context
- Experience in mentorship and training, preferably in an academic or research setting.
- Approachable and demonstrated ability to create an open and safe environment for honest and transparent communication.
- Willingness and ability to provide encouragement and emotional support to autistic researchers in the network so they can navigate challenges and achieve personal and professional growth.
- Be reliable and available for regular meetings, discussions, and ongoing support.
- Have a strong network and be able to provide access to valuable resources, connections, and opportunities that can benefit autistic members’ personal and professional development.
- Strong communication skills to convey information clearly, actively listen to concerns and provide constructive feedback.
- Proficiency in coordinating virtual and in-person training events, including webinars and conferences.
- Commitment to promoting the voices and development of autistic researchers.
- Expertise in accessible and inclusive training practices
The Mentorship and Training Directors may contribute to each other's areas of responsibility, although one director may specialize more in community mentoring and the other in professional mentoring. Both directors will be involved to some extent in both training tracks, ensuring coordination and support for scholars. They can also work with Autistic Scholars as mentors, providing guidance and support.