STEP Reflection: Nisonger Center Research

During the summer and fall semester of 2017, I began a volunteer research position at the OSU Nisonger Research Center. The main focus of the research I was working on was to test alternative methods of helping children on the autism spectrum. These included essential oils for quality of life, probiotics for GI problems, investigative medicine compared to placebo medicine, neurofeedback study and the study of molindone for severe aggression.  Though there were many different areas of this research, I worked most closely with Taylor Wong who was a BS Clinical Research Assistant.

While completing my STEP project, my view of the autism disorder was completely transformed. Previously, I just saw the disorder as kind of this abstract idea that I hadn’t really seen up close in a clinical setting. Previously seeing it in a classroom setting was a totally different perspective. I was able to learn different methodologies in clinical research and became familiar with protocols and data collection. The fact that I was able to see the data from a one on one perspective it allowed me to put a more concrete idea to the disorder. Collecting data changed my whole idea of how I thought of children on the spectrum because I could see that they were more than their disorder. They are able to be analyzed which allows for change. Researching these disabilities allows us to see that there is a way to help these individuals which can give many people hope that they never would have had.

I had one interaction in which I was playing with a patient while his mom was speaking to a clinician. This experience led to the transformation that I felt because I was able to put the disorder to the data. The data was no longer just numbers on a paper or computer, the data was this little boy. It was amazing to basically see the numbers come to life. It made taking the data that much more rewarding because it wasn’t just tedious work, it was worth while.

This transformation is significant for my life because I plan to continue my career in psychology. I might go into applied behavior analysis and work with children on the autism spectrum so this opportunity has further allowed me to see what I’ll be doing in the future. I plan to get my PhD which will require me to take and analyze a lot of data which was the majority of my work during this project. My project has also broadened my understanding of the disorder which will in turn better me as a person and be able to educate others.