Monday, April 16, 2012

This is why people stay in one field forever...

I've just finished a very long, difficult term paper for one of my classes. The paper was on a subject near and dear to my heart, for a professor whom I love, and in a subject that is fascinating and wonderful.

But, man. It was hard.

You see, my undergraduate work was in Business, with an emphasis on Human Resources. That means that I know employment law inside and out, and I have a firmer grasp on fair hiring practices than your boss.

My graduate work is in Early Childhood Development and Elementary Education (Or, ECDEE, for short. Because that's not stupid.) Other people in my program have undergraduate work in child development, education, psychology, social work, etc. They throw around terms like "borderline" and "Theory of Mind" and acronyms that I think refer to sandwiches, but which actually refer to personality profiles. Which means- in some classes- I am in WAY over my head.

This particular paper I was writing was about evidenced-based interventions and models used to manage the "quirks" inherent to Autistic children, particularly those with Asperger's.

Small business ventures and corporate finance don't do me any good here. Having an autistic kid doesn't even really do me any good here, if I'm being honest. 'Cause you can't write a graduate-level term paper that says, "When my kid acts crazy, this is how I handle it: I tell people to go stuff themselves and then I give him gum."

*My child self-soothes with oral stimulation: gum is the best thing for him when he's having a meltdown. I did not intend for that to sound entirely ridiculous. Only partially ridiculous.

In order to write this paper, I had to dig through medical journals to find evidence-based interventions, which was fine. Here are the titles of some of the articles I used:

- Social competence intervention for elementary students with Asperger's syndrome and high functioning autism.  

- Social competence intervention for young children with high functioning autism and Asperger's syndrome: A pilot study. 

- Early childhood predictors of the social competence of adults with autism.  

- Social skills interventions for children with Asperger's syndrome or high-functioning autism: A review and recommendations.  

- Social skills interventions for children with high functioning autism spectrum disorders. 

- An initial investigation of the generalization of a school-based social competence intervention for youth with high functioning autism. 

You can see how those titles all start to blur together and seem... the same after awhile, right? Oh, please tell me you can see that, because otherwise I have virtually no justifiable reason for my head to have been throbbing for the last four days straight.

Once I had these articles, I had to actually read them. And let me tell you this: academic articles written by doctors and intended only for other doctors to read are difficult reading. Particularly when one has absolutely no experience in reading scientific/psychological/medical works. I mean, I took Psychology 101. When I was 17. So that helped... with deciphering the titles themselves, I guess.

In every. single. article. these doctors would make passing references to tests and scales that were used in the procedure. But because they assumed that only other professionals in their field would read these pieces, they never explained what a Candy Box Test was, or the Sally-Anne Test. Plus they would throw out acronyms like they were going out of style and never explain them. So I'd have to Google all the acronyms and tests and scales they referred to, just to get a sense of what they were talking about. "Oh... why didn't they just say 'the child showed empathy at a lower rate than his peers'? Why put it in doctor code?"

Anyway. I'm done. I turned it in. And then I noticed three typos. *Headdesk*

This is exactly why people never leave their chosen field once they're in it. It's too hard to play catch up in another field.


  1. Yup, those titles definitely blend together after about two seconds of reading them. So I don't even want to imagine how awful it was to have to read them all and then try and remember which one said which thing!!

    Whatever the Candy Box test is, I want in on it. Although I tend not to share well with others, so I'm guessing the results wouldn't end well for me... ;)

  2. Sadly, the Candy Box Test involves tricking children into thinking there is candy in a box, when the box is really full of pencils. :(

  3. That is...a horrible thing to do to small children!! Sometimes I think doctors and psychologists come up with these tests just to amuse themselves. You know, "Hey, you know what would REALLY make us evil? A BOX FULL OF PENCILS."

  4. And then they ask the kid, "If we show this box to your friend, what will he think is in here?" If the kid says "Pencils" he lacks Theory of Mind, and if the kid says "Candy" he has Theory of Mind.

    Totally obvious, right? 0_o

  5. Uh, totally. I'm now secretly hoping that there were a handful of kids who went "I don't get candy? Screw you. My friend will think the box is full of monkeys." just to mess up their results.

  6. While this would be genuinely funny, you have to remember these kids are autistic. They definitely don't think that way. They don't even realize they're being studied.

  7. Good point. You'd think considering my mother is a special ed teacher, I'd be better at remembering things like that. Apparently not...

  8. I live with this kid every single day, and every once in awhile I think, "Oh, yeah. Not every kid acts like this. Huh." So no worries.

  9. I'm starting uni this year...actually, I HAVE started uni(sorry, I'm overwhelmed...), and apparently it is a disaster. Especially when you're supposed to wrtie up an assignment with refernce to academic almost killed me!
    Also, I did science in igh school, and commerce in uni. As it is obvious, I'm befuddled. Should have stayed in one field? Oh I don't know. I don't know anything anymore... =/

  10. Well congrats on finishing it! :) I read scientific papers that relate to my field all the time, and I am still lost half the time! It's frustrating when the authors don't explain things. When I first got to grad school and started reading these papers, I was so lost! There are all these acronyms that are "accepted" (don't have to be defined in the text): these papers looked like a string of letters. Thankfully, I've slowly started to learn them. Good luck to you, I think it's awesome what you're doing - you'll get all caught up!

  11. Even though the process is hard, I know there will be moments when your official knowledge will help work D, or give you the ability to communicate with professionals about important topics regarding your family. As for the typos - have you seen the average person's writing abilities? I'm guessing you'll be at the top of the scores :)

  12. Woot Woot! Good job finishing a tough paper. You are amazing! Well, I graduated with a degree in Anthropology. I didn't want to go on to grad school in that direction even though to do anything really with Anthropology, I'd have to get a doctorat. Uh..... Not going there. I hated school, let's be honest. haha Anyway, good job, babes. :D

  13. I don't know either. Yay!

    I changed fields because my undergrad work is pretty much useless as a stay at home, homeschooling mom. I'm calling my graduate degree the "What I SHOULD Have Done the First Time" Degree.

  14. I'm hoping that the technically gobbledygook sticks, honestly. It will be so much easier in the future if I didn't have Google every other term for my homework ;)