Living Autism

Datum: 24 april 2017

Locatie: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus - Rodestraat 14 - 2000 Antwerpen (route: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus)

Tijdstip: 13.30 - 17.30 uur

Organisatie / co-organisatie: Autism Ethics Network

Korte beschrijving: Seminar with talks by Hanne De Jaegher, Sander Van de Cruys, and Wendy Lampen

Talks by

  • Hanne De Jaegher, Embodying the investigation of autistic social interactions
  • Sander Van de Cruys, Dealing with uncertainty in autism: from neuro-cognitive model to lived reality
  • Wendy Lampen, How the idea of an Autism Spectrum Disorder affects autism awareness


  • Hanne De Jaegher (UPV/EHU, Donostìa, Spain),  “Somehow we belong together, here we are something special”,  Embodying the investigation of autistic social interaction
    The idea of embodiment is immensely popular in cognitive science and psychology today. Everything, including social cognition, is –embodied–. But what does that really mean? And what would it mean to get out of the armchair and find out? My colleagues and I have devised a method for investigating the experience of social interactions. The method, called PRISMA, provides a hands-on way to unravel the experience of interacting. It allows researchers to calibrate and trust themselves to be the sophisticated instruments with which to study intersubjectivity. This method can also be applied to the study of autistic interactions. I will demonstrate how this works, by inviting the audience to participate in a short hands-on investigation, and by presenting some findings we made on an interaction between two children with autism. The prismatic investigation reveals that a potentially subtle instrument for understanding autistic interaction consists in a group of researchers engaging in a systematic, embodied unfolding of interactive experience. If it is true that the different ways in which people with autism move, both individually and with others, affect their ways of understanding the world and of thinking (as suggested by Hobson 2002; Donnellan et al. 2013; De Jaegher 2013), then PRISMA offers a tool for testing and refining this claim. Our findings show a more sophisticated attunement between the children with autism than classical theories like Theory of Mind predict – a finding that is in line with the experience of many practitioners in the field.

    We present this method and results in this paper: De Jaegher, H., Pieper, B., Clénin, D., & Fuchs, T. (2016). Grasping intersubjectivity: an invitation to embody social interaction research. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 1-33.
  • Sander Van de Cruys (KUL, Leuven, Belgium), Dealing with uncertainty in autism: from neuro-cognitive model to lived reality
    Recent computational models view the brain as a prediction engine, actively and continuously predicting incoming sensory inputs and constructing (perceptual) meaning. More specifically, the brain infers the causes of its sensory inputs by minimizing the prediction errors, i.e. the mismatches between what the mental models predict and the actual inputs the system receives at any point. Prediction errors can be used to update internal models, but they should not be taken at face value, because their origin might be in noise or irrelevant variability in the environment. To adequately weigh prediction errors according to their relevance, contextual uncertainties need to be tracked across multiple encounters with a particular stimulus. We proposed that particularly this flexible weighing of prediction errors based on uncertainty goes awry in autism, with subsequent problems in extracting signal from noise. I will give a brief, nontechnical introduction to the computational framework and discuss how it may help to understand the cognitive and affective challenges (and strengths) of individuals with autism.
  • Wendy Lampen (independent consultant/philosopher, Antwerp, Belgium), How the idea of an Autism Spectrum Disorder affects autism awareness
    When the American Psychiatric Association redefined the criteria for Autism and related pervasive developmental conditions it caused quite a stir amongst individuals with a diagnosis, their families and their practitioners. Each group of stakeholders responded in terms of either more medical research, better support practices and/or more emphasis on the capabilities of those diagnosed with ASD. While the relatively new autism spectrum concept better encompasses the variation seen in individuals diagnosed with the condition and satisfies most of the needs for further medical research, autism remains seen as a single condition mainly located inside skin and skull. In this presentation I would like to explore with you the possibilities of a social-ecological notion on autism and its implications for therapeutical practices and support.

Inkomprijs: Attendance is free of charge

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