The Othering of Autism

(Y)our Brains, (Y)our Minds

February 4-7, 2021

Winnicott in 1949 wrote, “The live body, with its limits, and with an inside and an outside, is felt by the individual to form the core for the imaginative self.” The quest to better understand Autism Spectrum phenomena offers a singular opportunity to view the brain’s infinitely intricate intertwining with the psyche. The neurobiology of autism affects the creation of a mind at every level: the quality of relatedness and attachment, the capacity to take in a good enough mother, the extent to which the parental environment is felt to be protective, sustaining and containing, the ability to use imagination to bridge the gap between self and other. This weekend will offer an approach to autism by way of multiple distinct yet intersecting strands. And, by doing so, bring us in closer to the humanity of those on the autism spectrum.

The weekend will also serve as a forum for thinking about the othering of those identified as different from whatever it is that we determine ‘us’ to mean. In that light, we will look at the ways that Autism Spectrum Phenomena exemplify the interface between the hard-wiring construction materials of our corporeal selves and the imaginative elaboration of how we came to have the brains and bodies our minds inhabit, and how our brains and bodies impact the ways we, as Thomas Ogden says, “dream ourselves into being.”

Coordinator: Michael Krass, Ph.D.

GUEST FACULTY:

TEMPLE GRANDIN, Ph.D. Dr. Temple Grandin’s life work has been to understand her own autistic mind, and to share that knowledge with the world, aiding in the treatment of individuals with the condition. Her understanding of the human mind has aided her in her work with animal behavior, and she is one of the most respected experts in both autism and animal behavior in the world. She is the author or co-author of ten books on autism and seven books on animal behavior, as well as multiple papers on both topics. She has been featured on NPR and the BBC and has been on many television programs such as Larry King Live, 20/20, 60 Minutes, Fox and Friends and has a 2010 TED talk, in addition to being the subject of an Emmy Award-winning movie.  She is an inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a recipient of the 2019 Dole Leadership Prize and has received innumerable awards for her innovative work on animal behavior and livestock management.  David Dobbs, writing in the New York Times, asserted, “Dr. Grandin has helped us understand autism not just as a phenomenon, but as a different but coherent mode of existence that otherwise confounds us.”

ROBIN HOLLOWAY, Ph.D., C.Psych. has worked as a psychologist in Toronto with infants, children, teens, adults, parents and families for over 40 years. He a is long-time member of the Willow Centre, an innovative group of psychologists working from a psychoanalytic perspective with people on the autism spectrum  He serves as a teacher and supervisor in the Canadian Institute for Child & Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. He is the author of the book “Asperger’s Children: Psychodynamics, Aetiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment” (Karnac, 2016), as well as the paper, “On Emerging from Autism and Into the Terror of Relationships” published in the Journal of Child Psychotherapy.

TIM PAGE is a Professor in both the Thornton School of Music and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1997 for his writings about music for The Washington Post.    He is the author or editor of more than 20 books, including “Parallel Play,” a memoir of his childhood with undiagnosed autism.

STEPHANIE PASS, Ph.D. works with young children and their families in San Francisco, where she specializes in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. She presents widely and consults to professionals across disciplines. Her papers on using play therapy to treat children with autism, sensory integration disorder, trauma, and mourning the loss of a parent have been published in Psychoanalytic Dialogues, Contemporary Psychoanalysis, fort da, and the Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy.