Focus Groups – Round 1

So what have we been up to recently at Sensory Street? Well it has been a busy few weeks as the first of our ethics applications was approved and it was time to start collecting some data!

This month we ran our first set of focus groups exploring the lives of autistic people in public places such as restaurants, shops and more. In each group we asked people to share their thoughts about public places that they like going to and ones that are more difficult due to the sensory aspects of the environment.

It was great to have the chance to talk directly to autistic people and hear their experiences first-hand. Over the course of the week we had three different groups and everyone shared with us their thoughts about public places they enjoy and ones that are more difficult. I found it really interesting that some people said that COVID has been a positive experience for them, with the streets being quieter and restaurants being less busy and draining. I wonder what else we will learn in our future groups?

Over the next few weeks our research assistant Keren will be conducting a content analysis on transcripts from the focus groups. Content analysis is a process where researchers analyse the frequency, meanings and relationships of certain words, themes or concepts. For example, if people in the groups talked about a specific emotion or thought associated with one location (e.g. that certain locations were noisy) then the analysis would count how many people talked about this across the different groups and how often they talked about it.

We hope to have several different researchers look over the data and analyse it themselves if possible. Using a range of people will increase the inter-rater reliability, or the likelihood that the results that we find are valid.

Once we have identified the main themes and concepts from people’s responses in our first groups, we will create the questions for our second round of focus groups in mid to late July.  In this second set of focus groups we are hoping to develop our understanding of ideas that people have identified as important to them.

From all the data that we collect over these focus groups and our social media posts, we hope to create an interactive, multisensory experience in 2022 for people to learn more about what it is like to have sensory processing difficulties. Want to be involved in one of our focus groups in July? Contact us here…

Catherine

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