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!
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