For this month’s blog post I am discussing my research journey.

From the beginning, I knew that I wanted my research to be focused on bilingualism and autism, as a bilingual immigrant working with autistic children this really interested me; however, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. It was a bit tough for me to start thinking like a researcher: what did I want to find out, that hasn’t already been done. While trying to find an innovative way to intertwine both topics, every time I thought of something to do, research on it had already been done. I felt a bit discouraged in the beginning, it seemed that every research idea related to bilingualism and autism had already been either taken, couldn’t be completed within a year, was too open-ended, or not specific enough to be measurable. Without a doubt, developing a specific, measurable aim proved to be the most difficult part so far for me.

The evolution of my goal/aim:

My starting goal was: The research aims to understand the language learning experience and the social experience of bilingual (Spanish/English speaking) children with autism, ages 8-12.

My goal now: To compare what parents of typical and atypical children (18 months-3 years) are being told by professionals: should the native tongue be spoken at home?  [I’m pretty sure this is going to be my solid research aim, but I have a possible second goal I am thinking about including. ]

This opening paragraph that I wrote sums up the research I’ve read and why the research I want to do is important:

Based on previous research, parents do not know the benefits of raising their children as bilinguals. In the past, parents were advised not to speak to their child in two languages, as it might confuse them. More recent research has come out and highlighted the importance and benefits of speaking the native tongue at home.  However, some professionals might agree that this advice still pertains to parents with children with ASD, as the hallmark features of ASD are communication deficits. This study aims to compare the advice that typical and atypical parents are being told by professionals

After reading many (many) articles, I was able to pull inspiration from each, to create my own unique measurable aim. This process taught me that the most important part of research is definitely reading a lot, by doing so I was able to see what the literature was lacking and where the gaps were.

I’m at the part of my research now where I am working on my questionnaire to gather information from parent participants as well as refining participant background. This part of the process is equally intentional but it comes easier now that I have the foundation. It also contains a lot of reading as I am getting inspiration from parent surveys that other researchers have used in the past.

I’m excited to hear what you guys have experienced while creating your research aims, and how the journey so far has been for everyone!

Cheers,

Manuela

The Simple Words That Save Lives

For this month’s blog post I read The Simple Words That Save Lives.

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190919-the-simple-words-that-save-lives?utm_source=pocket-newtab.

The article begins around a distressing 911 call, in which the caller’s mother is in crisis and cannot breathe. Unfortunately, the 911 operator and the caller are unable to effectively communicate which results in both feeling frustrated and the dispatcher hanging up on the caller. The woman was later pronounced dead.

After national news coverage, the dispatcher was fired and this sparked the conversation of how to best avoid miscommunications from the experiences of “expert talkers”. Something as small as using the word “speak” instead of the word “talk” when a detective wants to communicate with a suspect changes the way the conversation would go. People in crisis are not susceptible to the word talk because it’s not considered a meaningful word. I would have not thought that such a small and otherwise insignificant change would have such an impact.

Another example of this is when researchers were able to test the effectiveness of the prefix “any-” and “some-” by having a doctor ask “Is there _-thing else you want to address in the visit today?”. It was found that 53% of patients addressed other ailments when asked any-, and 90% raised other ailments when the prefix some- was used. This is because “any” has a closing-down function while “some” is more inviting and open-ended.

I found this article deeply interesting because these changes are not something that an average person is consciously thinking about when choosing which words to use. The article places significance on the importance and weight of words by showing how a message can be misconstrued or altered due to one simple modification. This information makes me want to become more aware of my own choice of words to be a more effective communicator and receive my desired outcome.