Events & News
Events & News
Events & News
March 22, 2024

Interviews, Ireland, Autism & Mental Health: A Lab Meeting with Rachel O’Connor!


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Rachel O’Connor is a clinical psychologist and PhD in our lab - remotely, as she is based in Ireland. Luckily, we had the chance to meet and chat about her research in person, after she visited the Netherlands to give a presentation at the National Autism Congress in March.

Rachel’s project is about mental health in autistic adults, which she recently investigated in a series of interviews. The lab meeting was a great opportunity to learn from each other and exchange experiences such as what is good (research) interview etiquette, what to do when sensitive topics come up with participants, and how she analyzed her data. For example, she explained that she took care to develop and test her interviews together with autistic people.

As a perk of an international lab, it is always particularly interesting to learn things that are unique to the country of research. In Rachel’s case, she explained that she made sure to include participants who are part of the Irish traveling community, where negative, stereotyped views on autism still persist. Thus, people with autism within this community often experience a lot of discrimination - an important factor for mental health. Even though it may sometimes take extra effort during recruitment, her work shows the importance of including a varied sample and marginalized groups in research and to be flexible with research methods. Allowing for interviews to be online, offline or even text-based can go a long way to capture the views and experiences of a diverse audience.

Learn more about Rachel's research in a recent publication & coming soon: a video recording of Rachel's presentation at the National Autism Congress; The link will be added here!