Personal Growth at the Center for Autism Research

Looking back at the past month spent interning at the Center for Autism Research, I now realize many of the valuable skills I have acquired as well as numerous characteristics I have learned about myself in the workplace.

To start, I have gained more collaborative skills and realized that I work well in a team setting. In the past, I have enjoyed individual projects and assignments, however, at CAR, I have found group efforts to be extremely

valuable. I am able to voice my own opinions and preferences and receive feedback from researchers and fellow interns, and then build on those ideas to produce the best result. For example, the other interns and I have been working on writing a script for the summer screening study discussed in my previous blog post (which you can read here!). This study’s goal is to test how willing families, including those with and without developmental concerns, are to download CAR’s response to name app and enroll in the research project in order to investigate how kids with autism, kids with developmental delays, and typically developing children respond to their individual names. The script will be used when approaching families in the waiting room at CHOP’s primary care family practice as well as when introducing the study and explaining more about the procedure in the doctor’s exam office. I believe the team effort, including my own perspective, has resulted in a product that is the most comprehensive to describe our study and its importance to families.

Throughout my time at CAR, I have also realized how valuable my organizational skills are in the work place. I have always been an extremely organized person with color-coded binders and folders for various subjects in high school and a perfectly arranged closet both at home and in my dorm room. However, now I have been able to take that skill to a new level. I have organized binders full of various medical and clinical assessment forms for participants at CAR and made it so that researchers can readily find the materials that they need. I have even printed out new forms and organized those in the binders as well so that the researchers and clinicians will have them ready to go for future visits with the participants.

Other skills that I have expanded upon include patience and taking the time to delve deeper or to look at a project from a new perspective. At first, it was not clear to me how exactly social justice would fit into my internship. However, as the weeks have gone on and I have taken the time to look at the research in new ways and have asked more questions, I have found numerous social justice niches within CAR. One researcher at CAR is particularly interested in the M-CHAT, an early developmental screening tool, and has compiled a database of a diverse group of children’s scores on this assessment. I have been able to question how health insurance, whether a child is on Medicaid or on private insurance, correlates with these scores. We are still in the process of running statistics but I am excited to see where this research (with my own twist) will lead.

Overall, I have experienced much growth over the past month by acquiring new skills and realizing existing qualities and I am excited to see where the next month will take me.