Focus Groups – Round 2

We have had a very productive couple of months since our last update. Following our first found of focus groups, we have been busy analysing the responses using an approach called content analysis. We used this approach to identify which public places people from the focus groups commonly identified as particularly challenging. There were several locations that people reported as being more difficult sensory environments, such as supermarkets, shops, restaurants and health care settings (such as GP surgeries and hospitals).

In our second set of focus groups we asked people to explore these different locations in more detail to find out what they found more challenging about them. We ran four different groups in which people shared their thoughts and experiences about why these places can be challenging sensory environments, as well as how they could be adapted to be more accessible. It was interesting to hear personal accounts about different public places and how a range of factors can influence how sensory input is experienced.

Over the next few weeks, Cathy, Catherine, and I will be analysing the data across both rounds of focus groups using an approach called thematic analysis. In this approach, we will review the data to develop a series of themes and subthemes that reflect patterns of meaning in the data. From the first round of focus groups, we hope to develop themes that represent ‘principles’ of sensory environments. This will help show factors that moderate the accessibility/experience of the sensory environment across public places. From the second round of focus groups, we hope to develop themes related to specific challenging environments. This will help show more specific factors related to the accessibility/experiences of these places.

We are also releasing a second set of social media posts in August to learn more about the different locations that we identified. You can find these on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages as well as our first set of posts from July.

All the data that we have collected over these focus groups and our social media posts will help us to create an interactive, multisensory experience in 2022 for people to learn more about what it is like to have sensory processing differences. We also hope to publish our findings as a research article.

In the meantime, we are going to conduct an informal feedback group online via Microsoft Teams in a few weeks’ time. This will be an opportunity for autistic individuals to give us feedback on our results and how we plan to present our findings. While we will not be recording this session, we will use your feedback to help us shape our future work. We welcome individuals who have not yet taken part in our previous groups as well as those who have.

Want to be involved in our online feedback session on the 7th of September (5:30-6:30pm)? If so, contact us by email, through our website or via social media…


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