Strategies for Effective Communication with Neurodiverse Children and their Guardians
Author: Jackson McFadden
For this week’s Inclusion in Neuroscience topic, our lab discussed how we as researchers can better communicate with participants and their families. Though there is a set standard of professionalism in neuroscience research, it is easy to overlook the most important aspect of conducting research: the participant!
Communication styles such as tone, word choice, body language, and expressions may seem like second nature, but throughout our discussion, we realized how important it was to remind ourselves of the messages we would like to put out. For instance, when greeting a participant, it might be relevant to consider the following questions:
We were also presented with another important question to consider: how can we best help to create a positive relationship between researcher and guardian? Naturally, it is important that our direct participant feels comfortable and confident. Especially when testing minors or participants accompanied by guardians, it is imperative that everyone present feels their best.
It is noted in literature that oftentimes parents or guardians may feel as if researchers do not take their expertise of their child seriously, which can create an uncomfortable environment. As we discussed in lab, it is important that we engage and incorporate the guardian’s reflection of their child’s behavior into the environment that we create during an experiment. It may be hard for a researcher to read cues of discomfort, stress, or other difficulty that a guardian may be familiar with. By working together with the participants, their guardians, and our fellow researchers, we can create the best possible testing conditions.
These few considerations are key in building strong, lasting relationships with those who participate in research. As one might imagine, these relationships can also serve to create better conditions for collecting data, which is always a plus!
Author: Mariana Orihuela
This week's Inclusion in Neuroscience topic was focused on learning to support historically excluded and marginalized research participants. To implement effective techniques that will help improve the B-RAD Lab’s work with these populations, the lab read an article about cultural and linguistic adaptations for families of people with disabilities (Sands et al., 2021) and watched a video on research distrust in historically marginalized groups due to previous violations of informed consent. While discussing these resources during our weekly lab meeting, the main themes that emerged were inclusion, language, and trust in research. Lab members mentioned how social media could be used to promote inclusion in research settings. They discussed how displaying participants’ reviews of research labs may increase transparency and verify the trustworthiness of a lab for future participants. Also, maintaining updated websites that clearly describe studies could provide potential participants an opportunity to investigate research labs before contacting a research lab to indicate their interest in study participation. To ensure that people from marginalized groups understand informed consent, cultural and language factors must be considered when recruiting participants from these populations and explaining informed consent; this is another way of establishing and maintaining trust in research. Before ending our discussion, the B-RAD lab agreed that to promote inclusion, they will be careful with their word choices, learn American Sign Language, prioritize reading and citing articles from diverse research teams, be transparent and clear about informed consent, and be considerate of their language tones.
B-RAD Lab Members all contribute articles