I CAN Network: Targeted mentoring and support for autistic students and young people

I CAN Network is Australia’s largest autistic led organisation. I CAN provides group mentoring to autistic young people through school and online programs that celebrate autistic strengths, passions and expression. Participants develop a stronger sense of self-acceptance, confidence, optimism and belonging.

As the vast majority of I CAN mentors are Autistic themselves, they can relate to the experiences of the young people they support. Each mentoring team of two includes at least one autistic member.

For more information visit I CAN Network.

I CAN Schools (face-to-face)

I CAN Network offers weekly one hour group mentoring sessions for up to 16 autistic students in schools across the Greater Melbourne, South West and Goulburn Murray regions.

Victorian government schools are offered discounted packages to take part in the face-to-face program.

Primary schools

I CAN Network offers I CAN Imagination Club®, a program designed for students in Years 3-6 who are autistic, or who have learning differences or experience social anxiety. The program positions itself as a space ‘for students with big imaginations’ rather than a particular diagnosis.

Secondary schools

There's no age limit on the students who can take part. Students need to be aware of their autism diagnosis as the high school program explicitly promotes positive autistic identity. Sessions also focus on helping students prepare for post-school pathways.

I CAN Network offers a whole-of-school approach, so that all mentoring programs are complemented by parent information sessions and professional development workshops that are shaped by the insights and experiences of autistic young people and adults.

I CAN Schools Online

I CAN Network’s schools online program offers comparable content and the same empowering approach as their face-to-face group mentoring programs but delivered online. This allows I CAN to serve schools in areas outside their regional hubs as well as schools whose students would prefer online delivery.

The program typically consists of 10 one hour online sessions (packages are flexible) which aim to empower eight to ten autistic students. As with face-to-face programs, I CAN Schools Online promotes a whole-of-school approach, with online parent information sessions and professional development workshops.

I CAN Online (home-based)

I CAN’s online program brings the benefits of autistic-led group mentoring to the comfort of a home setting in the afternoon or evening. The groups cater to young people across Australia and New Zealand (ages 9 to 20). The program is funded by parents, not schools. The program cost can be included in self-managed/or plan managed National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plans.

Each online mentoring group includes up to eight to nine young people led by two experienced I CAN mentors in a safe, engaging, supportive environment. Each cycle contains a one hour session at the same time each week (six weekly sessions in total). In addition to groups offered by age range, there are interest-based groups as well as an online group for autistic LGBTIQA+ teens.