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Imagining Autism: Now I see the World

Shaughnessy, Nicola and Turner, Sarah (2016) Imagining Autism: Now I see the World. Routledge, Taylor and Francis DVD. (KAR id:59751)


‘Imagining Autism: Now I See the World’ is a film emerging from the University of Kent’s AHRC funded project, in which an interdisciplinary team of drama and psychology researchers pioneered novel ways of interacting with this hard to reach condition and in so doing revealed new insights into what Francesca Happe describes as the ‘extraordinary otherness of the autistic mind’. As a dialogue between documentary film and participatory performance arts, Nicola Shaughnessy (Principal Investigator and Producer) and Sarah Turner (Film Maker) create a window into the imaginative world of autism and the perceptual experience of the participants. As an experimental film artist, Turner sought ‘to keep the documentary real, but to privilege the more feeling space.’ The project’s practical methods facilitated communication (verbal and physical), social interaction (with practitioners and peers) and imagination (pretence and play), the key diagnostic elements in autism. Multisensory scenic “environments” (e.g. forest, arctic, space) functioned as intermedial encounters; the film is similarly positioned between two worlds, a key to an alternative sensuality and a means of imaginatively walking in the shoes of the other.

The sub-title (Now I see the World) comes from the words of the boy who is centre-stage, discovering his voice through the microphone and his mother’s testimony closes the film. The participants in the film are co-producers, working through improvisation and intensive interaction with specially trained practitioners.

Whilst the impact narrative as reported in the New Scientist ascribes ‘value’ in terms of empirical evidence of efficacy (statistically significant improvements in language, emotion recognition, empathy and socialization), the film’s exploration of the affective journeys for participating children, teachers, and practitioners, articulates complementary perspectives, valuing agency, self-expression and aesthetics.

Item Type: Visual media
Projects: Imagining Autism: Drama, Performance and Intermediality as Interventions for Autism
Additional information: A film documentary (30 minutes) arising from the AHRC funded project, Imagining Autism. See The film is available for public screenings by arrangement with the author.
Uncontrolled keywords: Autism, documentary, drama
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
N Visual Arts
N Visual Arts > N Visual arts (General). For photography, see TR
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1600 Drama
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council (
Depositing User: Nicola Shaughnessy
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2016 16:05 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 23:36 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Shaughnessy, Nicola.

Creator's ORCID:
CReDIT Contributor Roles:

Turner, Sarah.

Creator's ORCID:
CReDIT Contributor Roles:
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