Bringing the autistic lifeworld to supportive technology design: an enactive approach

Johannes Cornelis van Huizen*, Jelle van Dijk, Wouter G. Staal, Mascha C. van der Voort

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Supportive technologies for autistic individuals are promising in principle, yet their uptake remains limited. Critics argue that in current designs of supportive technologies, autism is mostly framed as a ‘disorder’ whose limitations can be pragmatically compensated for. To increase uptake, designers should get a better handle on how to incorporate the full richness of the autistic experience into the design process. This paper presents an integrative framework of the autistic lifeworld, called Autistic Lifeworld Design (hereafter: ALD). ALD evolved in a transdisciplinary research setting, substan-tiated by 11 design case studies with autistic young adults as well as theoretical inquiries into enactivism, design and autism. It consists of four dimensions of experience – sensory, habitual, social, and affective –, each providing specific pointers on how to better under-stand how autistic people experience the world and how suppor-tive technologies may complement that experience. By adopting an enactive approach, ALD enables a reframing of supportive technol-ogy as helping to sustain different levels of homoeostasis. It offers a novel lens that allows designers to put the lived experiences of autistic individuals at the centre of the design process, with special attention to the role of bodily structures and processing in shaping these experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2023


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