Finding (and losing) one’s way: autism, social impairments, and the politics of space

Phenomenology and Mind 21:20-33 (2021)
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Abstract

I use critical phenomenological resources in Tetsurō Watsuji and Sarah Ahmed to explore the spatial origin of some social impairments in Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I argue that a critical phenomenological perspective puts pressure on the idea that social impairments in ASD are exclusively (or even primarily) neurocognitive deficits that can be addressed by focusing on cognitive factors internal to the autistic person — for example, training them to adopt a more neurotypical approach to social cognition. Instead, I argue that the structure and character of some neurotypical spaces may play a regulative role in shaping aspects of at least some of the social impairments autistic people exhibit when they inhabit these spaces. I also briefly consider some possible therapeutic applications of this critical phenomenological approach.

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Watsuji's Phenomenology of Embodiment and Social Space.Joel Krueger - 2013 - Philosophy East and West 63 (2):127-152.
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Joel Krueger
University of Exeter