Ruud P.J. Hendriks

Winner Dissertation Prize 2001

Autistisch gezelschap. Een empirisch-filosofisch onderzoek naar het gezamenlijk bestaan van autistische en niet-autistische personen

Supervisor: Prof. dr ir G.H. de Vries
Nomination: University of Maastricht, Faculty of Cultural Sciences,

Report by the selection committee

This book is the result of special, interdisciplinary research, a study in which views and methods borrowed from disciplines such as anthropology, psychology, history of ideas and philosophy of language are successfully used and subsequently applied to the current issues. The book deals with interactions between persons who suffer from an autistic disorder and persons who passed through a normal development. In what way is communication possible between autists and non-autists? The connection is laid in a narrative but nevertheless strict way. The author is able to cite examples from the care practice to explain the theory that aims at clarifying the tension in the communication between autists and non-autists. The thesis reports on an investigation with a conceptual effort: the enrichment of the repertory of words and images that bring the shared existence of autists and non-autists to the notice of the reader. The central issue is the contact of autists with non-autists and the contact of autistic and non-autistic people with the non-human reality. The author is able to formulate a coherent argument in spite of the diversity of perspectives. This study is daring and exceptional in the new approaches it offers and has at the same time an important, social value.