2023 Abstracts Stage 3

Reconceptualising Pathological Demand Avoidance as a neurodivergent phenomena using the Philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari.

Reconceptualising Pathological Demand Avoidance as a neurodivergent phenomena using the Philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari.

2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Can and how can an autistic subject live authentically in contemporary neoliberal, capitalist society?

This dissertation shall focus upon the vital topic of authenticity in the modern world and examine and question how and why Autistic individuals such as myself are inhibited from behaving in an authentic manner in a modern neoliberal, capitalist society and how subjects can transcend this in the western world holistically. To do this, one shall explore the associating factors of deemed developmental disorders, health the notion of neurodiversity and neoliberalism practically and philosophically, which has developed significantly in the modern age. The modern-day usage of the term neurodiversity, socially and philosophically, can be applied to supposed “high functioning autism” as not a lifelong, debilitating disability and thus illness, but as a neurological form of diversity in an endless spectrum of diversity within the subjective, multi-faceted human experience.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

The Power of Dance: what are We Engaged in When We Dance and What Does This Mean When the Autistic Child Dances Both Individually and Alongside Others?

CONCEPT: How dance can affect the autistic child’s sense of self, and whether this is more beneficial in a segregated or integrated setting

PHILOSOPHY: Sparshott’s A Measured Pace: Toward a Philosophical Understanding of the Arts of Dance, supported by such thinkers as Havelock Ellis and criticised by Graham McFee

SOURCES: interviews with teachers, factual research on Autism, case studies on dance for Autistic children, secondary texts on dance such as Thomas’ Dance, Modernity and Culture, and secondary texts on special needs children and the arts such as Roberts’ Encouraging Expression: The Arts in the Primary Curriculum.

Thesis: As an individual experience, dance can be the most direct way for the autistic child to access the self; giving way to more stable connections with the world and others.

The most central emotion for an autistic child is fear. The autistic child’s communication difficulties and confused concept of self means fear is associated with situations where the child has to apply the self to the world and to others.

Sparshott’s philosophy of dance argues when dance is done for its own sake, the individual is ‘self-transformed’ into the dancing body.

The most powerful and significant outcome of dance as an individual experience for the autistic child, above all the other arts, seems to be the potential it has to unlock something within their mind. As Sparshott says, it is in the immediacy of dance that engages the individual in a self-transforming experience where the self is in absolute connection with the body.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Men Have Pumpkins for Heads … or Are Made of Glass. Autism: How Does It Fit into Our Society?

Objective/ territory: To analyse how autism fits into our society and deconstruct our self- constructed ‘social norms.’ People have wrong conceptions based in historical comprehension.

Sources: Michael Foucault (Madness and Civilisation), Jacques Derrida (Writing and Difference), Descartes (The First Meditations).

Project outline: I aim to provide an understanding that autism does not necessarily fit into either category of reason or non- reason. Through analysing the philosophers named above, I will investigate the truth or validity behind our self-constructed ‘social norms’, and whether or not we hold a true account of what is considered to be reason and non-reason. Questions will be addressed such as where do we draw the line of separation between reason and non- reason? Is there such a thing as reason and non-reason? Where has our idea of normality been derived from? And who has the right to decide what is normal?

Through a method of deconstruction, I aim to scrap the system and prove that society should be constructed in such a way that rejects any notion of social hierarchies.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Autism and Ethical Theory: if we are unaware that what we are doing is wrong, can we be held responsible for our actions?

Territory • Autism and Asperger Syndrome • Personal Interest in Autism – work at charity for autistic children • Interested to look at specific traits of autism, and link it to philosophical ethical theory • Autism as a social disorder and developmental disability, and a lifelong, cross cultural disability • Difficulty relating to people and thus a difficulty with empathy – impaired theory of mind • Triad of impairments – difficulty with social imagination, interaction and communication • Routines and special interests • Theory of Mind – ability to think that other people have different thoughts/feelings to you – can imagine how people feel in particular situation. E.g. If someone’s mother has died, though you may not be sad yourself, can understand how they will be feeling • ASD = impaired theory of mind – not instinct to think/act in a particular way • So, if we cannot put ourselves in someone else’s position, can we be held responsible for acting “badly”? • People with ASD often have other accompanying disorders, e.g. Attention deficit disorder and depression • Impaired theory of mind means people with ASD will have a lack of awareness for the outcome of an action. Philosophical Concepts • Hobbes – ideas of self, preservation, and that one is free to do something if we can do it if we so will. Idea of pleasure as the only good, and so the only thing that people do for its own sake – We always act on our strongest desire for self-preservation – we act in the right for ourselves – more lenient of autistic behaviours? • Mill – Consequentialist tradition that an action is right or wrong depending on consequences – An action is good if it benefits the most people possible – acting in an apparently socially unacceptable way is not excusable as it will cause more harm to people than good • Kant – We should do the right thing for the right reasons – idea of duty – looks at INTUITIONISM and a voice of conscience • Hegel’s Theory of action – Similar to Kant – sees morality to be autonomous as to be moral is to deny a law which applies equally to everyone rather than just to oneself • Foucault – Look at in terms of a change throughout history – Very specific that ASD is NOT a mental disorder, but a developmental disability • In the past people who acted in such a way would not have been understood in the same way that they are now, and so could have been excluded from society/treated badly – E.g. hospital General in Paris • Rise in scientific knowledge (Kant), people now understand more and so people are hopefully less likely to be excluded for being “different”. Aims and Objectives • I have a great personal interest in autism and have worked with autistic children for the last four years • People with autism are often misunderstood, and so I think it is important for awareness of the disorder to be raised and that is the aim of this project, as well as looking at whether or not people who are unaware that what they are doing is wrong, can be held responsible for their actions.

2006 Abstracts Stage 2

In What Ways can People with Autism be Considered Free and is it Ethically Correct for us to make Decisions on their Behalf?

Territory • I wished to look at those with autistic spectrum disorders and the treatment methods that are used to attempt to improve, or even cure, this condition. Philosophical Concepts • I looked at Sartre’s and Descartes theories on freedom in order to make a comparison between the two. Key texts used were ‘Nausea’ by Sartre and ‘Meditations on First Philosophy’ by Rene Descartes. • Also given consideration was Kant’s ‘Categorical Imperative’ taken from his work ‘Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals.’ This was a deontological ethical theory, concentrating on the act itself, not the consequences. • Kant’s theory was compared with a teleological theory. I looked at Mill’s Utilitarianism to show the contrast between looking at the consequences of the act, as opposed to the act itself. Aims and Objectives. • To reach a conclusion on how much freedom those with Autism need/should be given. • To discuss whether those who care for them have the right to make decisions on their behalf, and if so is this compromising their freedom • Look at whether it is the act itself or the consequences of the act that is important in making an ethical decision. • Decide whether we should follow Kant’s older ethical theory or Mill’s modernised version of Utilitarianism.

2004 Abstracts Stage 3

The Mad World of a Growing Mind

Aims & Objectives: • To examine the way that people on the Autism Spectrum fit into the norms of society and the way that this has affected their identity. • To identify the changing attitudes that have arisen in respect to Autism and the way they have affected inclusion of people with the disorder over time. Structure: I will begin by introducing the notions of self and identity; looking at the structure of society and how a persons identity is developed in response to the prevailing structures. I will then progress to looking at the changing attitudes towards madness from the middle Ages to Modernity. This work will be the foundation for my genealogy of Autism, which will then be the basis on which to examine Autism and its identity in relation to society; the changes that have occurred and the way that these changes have affected the ability of someone with Autism to be part of the society in which they live. The final section of this work will be a case study examining one particular child with Autism; how his identity fluctuates, how he is perceived by those around him, and how this affects his being in respect to the society that he is a part of. Territory: The territory for this work will be the Autism Spectrum and ‘society’. Sources: The main source for this work in respect to society and its perceptions of people with a mental illness will be Michel Foucault’s Madness & Civilization. Wendy Lawson will be one of my most important sources in regards Autism. However, many others from the fields of philosophy, sociology and psychology will be used to support, and elaborate on my ideas.