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My experience presenting at the IMFAR Scientific Meeting

On May 13th, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA I presented my research titled, “Family Experiences in Bilingual Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)”, at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR).

Written by PhD Student Krystle Jalalian

On May 13th, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA I presented my research titled, “Family Experiences in Bilingual Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)”, at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR).  IMFAR is an annual scientific meeting, convened each spring, to exchange and disseminate new scientific progress among ASD scientists and their trainees from around the world. The aims of the meeting are to promote exchange and dissemination of the latest scientific findings and to stimulate research progress in understanding the nature, causes, and treatments for ASD; foster dialogue among ASD scientists across disciplines and across methods; advance the training and development of new ASD scientists by supporting the inclusion of postdoctoral and pre-doctoral trainees as well as junior faculty who are already working in ASD research and lastly cultivate diversity among ASD scientists by encouraging attendance and supporting access to the meeting for scientists and trainees from members of traditionally underrepresented groups, including those from ethnic minority groups, and those with disabilities.

My research poster had two objectives: to assess advice given by health and educational professionals to families with diagnosed bilingual children with ASD and to investigate how language exposure changes over time and how that change is related to family relationships.  My results were broken up into three sections: Recommendations and Advice regarding bilingualism, Language exposure and Family Relationships and Dynamics.  My results presented majority of parents did not receive explicit information about language choices in regards to their child’ diagnosis, also, the reduction of the non-English language input was a prevalent pattern from 12 months to 48 months.  However, the non-English language input increased after diagnoses do to family choices.  Lastly and the most uplifting result was parents that raised their child bilingually reported more positive experiences because of the maintenance of communication and cultural exchange with extended family members.  With the results presented above, it can be concluded that raising a child bilingually that has ASD does not negatively impact language development.

The results from my data brought out very interesting conversations with other researchers in the field and future research directions.  Being able to have the opportunity to present and have my research presented on a larger scale to other researchers working with similar populations was refreshing and enlightening.  With IMFAR being the top Autism conference in the world, I was able to meet and listen to talks of many top renowned Autism researchers in the field, especially who I have cited in my thesis.  It was truly amazing to be able to listen, speak and learn about all the research going on in the field of Autism and how it is rapidly growing everyday.  It was an invaluable experience and not only did I learn about all the research in the world, I was able to talk and network to my fellow researchers in my same position.  I believe this is key to success in research and to ultimately gain more insight on yourself and your next steps. I highly recommend going to conferences and networking to everyone because you learn more than you can imagine. You CAN do it! It has truly changed my life and opened up my eyes to all the amazing possibilities ahead! J

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