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Autism in the Wild: Bridging the Gap between Experiment and Experience

Shaughnessy, Nicola and Trimingham, Melissa (2016) Autism in the Wild: Bridging the Gap between Experiment and Experience. In: Garratt, Peter, ed. The Cognitive Humanities: Embodied Mind in Literature and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 191-211. ISBN 978-1-137-59328-3. E-ISBN 978-1-137-59329-0. (doi:10.1057/978-1-137-59329-0_11) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:59541)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.
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Traditional accounts conceive of the autistic individual as being locked in his/her own world due to difficulties in social interaction, communication and imagination (Wing 1996). The paradoxical association between autism and creativity is one of the reasons the condition causes such fascination and yet remains an enigma. This essay draws upon practical research exploring applications of performance to engage with atypical neuro-cognitive experience. The research explores new insights into the imagination and perception in autism through the multisensory multimodalities of performance, which, it is speculated, offer a space for ‘encounters’ with autistic states of being. We draw upon our AHRC practice-based project ‘Imagining Autism’, which explores the phenomenology of autism through a series of immersive, multi-sensory installations, puppetry and interactive digital media, to facilitate communication and social interaction with 7-11 year olds across the spectrum. These methods are developing new understanding of the imagination in autism and how it may be differently inflected from the recreative imaginations of neurotypicals. How can atypical experience be accessed through performance vocabularies? Does autism predispose to talents and if so, why? What is the nature of autistic creativity alongside neurotypical creativity? We reconceptualise the imagination in autism, challenging dualisms between the rational and the intuitive, the aesthetic and non-aesthetic and most crucially, imaginative creativity versus the recreative imagination. Two interactions between facilitators and children in the immersive and deeply sensory performance environments of ‘Imagining Autism’ are closely analysed to evidence cognitive development via the autistic imagination at work. A comedic exchange between a practitioner and a non-verbal child reveals ideation in the child building in rhythmic stages of somatic interaction; another child evidences imaginative engagement through shape, colour, texture, sound and movement while immersed in ‘outer space’. These examples suggest that the somatic interaction of body and the environment are as much part of cognition and the creative imagination as the brain and its functioning.

Item Type: Book section
DOI/Identification number: 10.1057/978-1-137-59329-0_11
Uncontrolled keywords: Autism, imagination, cognitive systems
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Nicola Shaughnessy
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2016 13:28 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2023 11:34 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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