JESSICA DOYLE

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My Passion

I have a passion for engagement in psychological research on the topic of Autism, in particular Autistic perceptual and sensory systems. I enjoy hypothesising and investigating theories and experimenting with translating theory into real-life, relevant and applicable practice. This year i completed my final year in Psychology with an honors degree from TCD and it is my ambition to continue on to PhD level.

I am an out-of-the-box problem solver, I relish a challenge and strive to uncover and link patterns. I like to approach a problem with a balance of neutral, systematic inquisitively and creative, logic. I have a particular interest in understanding the autistic neurotype and perception from a neutral perspective — similar to the difference between a diesel engine and a petrol engine. Autistic neuro systems and neurotypical neuro systems have many similarities, but they also have many differences. Treating them both as the same will cause problems as will treating one as a malfunction of the other. In contrast, by viewing each independently as valid neurotypes of human, with a spectrum of contextauly dependant strenghts and weaknesses promotes respectful investigations. This respectful investigation can then be translated into the design and adaption of environments and sociities that promote optimal functioning and outcomes for both.

I felt the multi-layered intrigue of wonder about how many layered patterns relate fills me with an alert, focused kind of energy. I experience a cascading web of colours and shapes. I like the deep crackling feelings and hue changes of reflection often accompanied by the shimmering possibility of growth. I enjoy the dance of growth; when my thoughts are challenged, and I experience interactions and situations that force me to rethink something I thought I’d figured out. This process is excellent for expanding my ideas.

I was inspired by the self-awareness I continue to develop in understanding myself, my neurotype and how I work best, rather than trying to be “normal” and the resilience I’ve developed from overcoming challenges has led to the realisation that with creative adaptions i can do so many things I never thought I could. I am inspired to spread these realisations to broader society to improve future and current lives. I want to inspire others with the self-confidence to grow within their own neurotype. I am inspired by the potentials that can come from respectful research that can translate to innovative environmental modifications to make space in society for all.


My Project

My showcase is of a prototype of an outdoor sensory space designed to minimises surprise/uncertainty that encourages an optimal experience and a playful environment that is accessible for autistic sensory systems. The benefits of exercise and fresh air are well established. For an Autistic neurotype, however, accessibility can be halted by barriers; Gyms are often crowded, sensory overloading and indoors. Outdoor activities often involve teams and unpredictable social interactions and playgrounds are not typically for adults. My idea is to design an optimal space to ground and foster confidence rather than a segregation space. The input received should translate to increased tolerance and productivity in other everyday unpredictable, yet necessary environments. The main elements of the design include a fully netted area with bamboo cane roof free from unpredictable flying insects while still, benefiting from fresh air and a vitamin D source. Adult size monkey bars build with adjustable kee klamps and tube from simplifiedbuilding.ie will provide proprioceptive (body awareness and motor control) input. A nest swing to provide vestibular (sense of body in space/coordination) input. Vestibular input can often create a calm feeling. A chill out area will also be included, including an outdoor bean bag to relax. The prototype is a work in progress with new elements such as a water feature, solar-powered visual pattern lights for nighttime and a rain/shade covered area.

My showcase is a practical application developed from key findings from my final year research which explored the relationships between sensory sensitivity, cognitive style, intolerance of uncertainty and anxiety, in a sample of 486 Autistic adults. Guided by theories of Hierarchical Predictive Coding, specifically the HIPPEA model, which suggest that the core difference in Autistic neurotypes lies in a fundamental perceptual difference. My key findings supported the theory that precise perception can lead to sensory overload, intolerance of uncertainty, and increases in anxiety and provides insight into the mechanisms underpinning autism, practical application and future research that is needed. My showcase is one idea for a practical application.

Also, during the lockdown, I was unable to swim and missing that sensory input which had a cascading negative effect on my mood, energy and concentration. The sensory elements of the space have been designed to replace that input and add more that will have a broader application to create a prototype of an entire sensory outdoor space.

I hope that this prototype can be modeled at a community level within a larger project that involves further collaborative, respectful research leading to enhanced understanding of the autistic neurotype and the design of practical implications and environmental adaptions to promote optimal functioning and outcomes.


My Future

My future plans are in an evolving state, I eventually want to go on to do clinical psychology and hopefully someday specialise in autism. In the short term, I will complete my design and build the full prototype in the next month. Next year I want to focus on pursuing research to PhD level with translations into practical applications and gain more clinical experience. I also hope to do more public speaking on autsim and present research.

I am interested in collaborative research partnership connected to Phd research with practical implications, I already have interest in collaboration with an organization in Australia as a key lesson learned collaboration with a corporate governance running elements, however, I still need to establish a connection with an Irish based company or charity who would be interested in collaborative research and/or environmental adaptions. Clinical work experience would also be really helpful too.


Get in contact with me at showcase@notsodifferent.ie