The Extraordinary Aesthetics of Autism

Imagining Autism led the presentations at a London event held at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) on Saturday 29th June 2013. The Extraordinary Aesthetics of Autism, filled to maximum capacity and organised by the Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance (University of Kent), was attended by health professionals, artists, academics – and others who simply had an interest in autism. Nicola Shaughnessy and Melissa Trimingham opened the day by presenting on ‘Imagining Autism: The Neurodivergent Imagination’, describing how the children in the project challenged and developed current definitions of the imagination. Illona Roth then presented on ‘Strange Imagination: autism, art and science’ arguing for the originality of the autistic imagination, and Karen Calamero shared her experience of working with Kelly Hunter from the RSC on the Hunter Heartbeat method, showing the deep engagement her pupils had with the work. After lunch Adam Ockelford spoke on ‘Music and Autism: a Very Special Relationship’ drawing on his practical experience working with children and adults, and giving insights into the synergies between the cognitive profile of autistic individuals and music; followed by Carolien Hermans who shared her important and unique work in Utrecht, researching and evaluating the efficacy of dance and movement with boys on the autistic spectrum. The day ended with a two hour long networking session over tea in the ‘snug’ area of the café, where some fascinating conversations between disciplines and different professions took place and important links were both made and nurtured. The feedback from delegates was very positive and will inform a longer three day event to follow, ensuring the CKP (Cognition, Kinethetics and Performance) Interdisciplinary Dialogue series will continue to impact upon both public and professionals.