Autism through Cinema: body language and the illegible body


  • Prof Janet Harbord

    Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom

Project summary

Research enrichment will enhanced collaboration and the co-creation processes with young autistic adults through a series of activities aimed to engage particular constituent groups. A visual essay film narrated by autistic contributors conjuring the imagined experience of autistic children in clinical films of 1950s. It will engage psychologists through a feature on the BMJ medical humanities site. The podcast, featuring a conversation between a neurodivergent team and a guest film professional discussing a film, will have connected an autistic perspective with cultural influencers. Instagram and QR code projects showcasing the method of film practice co-creation will have shared with industry professionals the work of autistic creatives, proposing a progressive and inclusive example of how films, and art can be made.

The shared co-creation methodology exists as a model that can be taken up by autism-focused charities and cultural organisations. The podcasts have profiled the professional work of early career autistic cultural commentators and the visual essay has enabled important debate to take place with psychologists and clinicians. Research discoveries will have reached an extensive general arts and film audience; our special events and workshops have offered a nuanced understanding of neurodivergence, benefiting constituencies who have limited narratives of autism, and research enhancement activities will have reached a large number of the neurodiverse community, including carers. The visual essay, podcasts, publication, and co-creation methodology will have impacted the field of Film Studies, enabling neurodiverse perspectives to act as a prism for re-thinking film pedagogy.