When I decided to undertake research for a Doctor of Musical Arts degree, I took the idea of contributing new knowledge to society very seriously, particularly as there was a scholarship involved. Consequently, each time I open this document to write I ask myself, "What is my motivation for this? Why am I writing? Why am I putting myself through this?" As I speak to people about Asperger's Syndrome and autistic traits I have become aware of huge depth of ignorance around the topic, despite the "flavour of the month" status of the conditions. This has to change. There is some meaning for me in learning to deal with my "disorder" and in making life easier for myself, but to give something back, to give an insight to those who are impacted by ASD, whether personally or as teachers, parents, friends, partners; there is the real purpose. While I appreciate that no-one in their right mind (there's an irony) would undertake a PhD-scale research project without either strong personal gain or altruistic motivation, I find that reminding myself of a higher purpose is the best way to push forward in the process.
So I have adopted a policy of glasnost and am very open with my topic, method, findings and observations with colleagues, students, friends and family. Perhaps there is also an element of my autistic special interest at work in this. Perhaps it is not just "openness" but obsession, coupled with a lack of self-censorship and an inability to recognise when my listeners are bored. At least I can say I'm constantly reflecting on the research.
- Recruiting: Apart from finding suitable participants for surveys, interviews and the like, recruiting participants takes on new meaning when writing about one's self, as there are those who are implicated by association.
- Alexithymia: Alexithymia literally means "no words for the feelings". It describes a difficulty in recognising and expressing one's own emotions.
- Researchers: Describe your own world because, especially if Theory of Mind is an issue, your subjects may not know just how different they are.
- A Living Document: The use of a web format that allows commentary creates a document that has the possibility of life after publication.
- Jigsaw: Everyone has a bit of autism, a few of the pieces of the jigsaw. "Oh, yeah, I'm a bit like that too..."
- Allan's Response: Allan responded to my comments.
- Statistics: Information on prevalence and distribution of ASD in the community.