The main challenges I have faced while doing my research is from the qualitative component of my research. This qualitative aspect includes 12 interviews from professionals who work with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I have interviewed three professionals from each of the following four fields: occupational therapy (OT), speech therapy (SLP), behavioral therapy (BT), and special education. The main challenge I faced with these interviews, was finding professionals to do them—especially in special education and behavioral therapy. With special education, it was difficult because I mainly had to reach out to school districts in the northern Illinois region, and they were not very responsive or helpful. Another issue I faced with finding special education professionals is that they have such a wide range of children with disabilities that they work with; it was difficult to find ones proficient enough in the area of children with ASD to interview. Another challenge I faced was finding behavioral therapists, mainly because I have no connections or network in that field and they just were not as easy to locate as OT’s and SLP’s. I also had the same problem I had with special educators—I found that behavioral therapists work with such a wide range of children with emotional and developmental disabilities that it was hard to find professionals experienced or well versed in working with children with ASD. However, when I did find three professionals who were BT’s and three who were special educators, I got a lot of good feedback and information through the interviews! My mentor also helped me a lot along the way—making the connections for me or reaching out to professionals she knew who knew other professionals.
To enhance my project, I did observe some of the professionals I interviewed. Although these observations are not a part of my research study—they were valuable experiences that helped me to better understand the different techniques used in different fields and how the individual therapies or services could benefit children with ASD in a multidimensional way.