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Online Home Testing

Dear Parent,  


My name is Lauren McGuinness, and I am a PhD student at the University of Kent. Under the supervision of Dr Kirsten Abbot-Smith, I am carrying out a research project investigating the conversation skills of 9–13-year-old autistic children and neurotypical children.


I am writing to you to enquire whether your child would be interested in participating in this study? If so, they would need to attend two (or possibly three) 1-hour sessions with me via Zoom. Sessions can be run at a mutually convenient time after-school, at the weekend, or during school holidays. In return for their participation, your child would receive a £25 e-voucher and a certificate.


In order to participate, your child must meet the study requirements on the attached poster.


This study involves two main activities. In our judgement task, your child would be asked to provide ratings about the speakers in a series of short audio clips. The other task is a fun activity that would be presented in a video-game-style. Your child would be shown a series of images of everyday objects, and then asked to verbally describe the target object in each line-up. We would also complete tests on basic language (CELF- recalling sentences) and pattern matching (WASI matrix reasoning) which also act as a break from the main tasks.


The sessions would be video-recorded at my end to allow later coding of your child’s verbal responses. You would also be asked to audio-record onto a device at your end. The video and audio recordings are stored on a secure server at the University of Kent, to which only the research team have access. You could remain present (off camera) throughout the sessions. 


By examining these abilities, this study aims to increase our understating of why difficulties in conversation may occur in some children, and how these skills may be improved. As such, we would really appreciate your participation in our research.


If your child is interested in being involved, please email with the subject line ‘Communication Study’. I will then send you some more detailed information about the study, alongside a short survey for you to fill out regarding your child’s demographic information and social preferences.


I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Kind Regards,

Lauren McGuinness, PhD Psychology Student

Dr Kirsten Abbot-Smith, Reader in Developmental Psychology

Kent Child Development Unit, Keynes College, Canterbury, CT2 7NP