Drawing on Autism

Alex Widdowson, PhD Candidate

Drawing on Autism is an investigation into the ethics of creating animated documentaries. As a non-autistic filmmaker, representing an autistic participant, I needed to be mindful of the well-rehearsed and problematic tropes about autism. These tropes seem to say more about the desires and needs of neurotypical audiences than they do about their autistic subjects. Moreover, animation presents a distinct set of ethical dilemmas.


Without the mechanical indifference of a camera, the act of observation is substituted for representation. A mode of representation where the artist is responsible for how the documentary participant looks, where they are, and what they do. Through collaborative feedback I attempt to share these responsibilities with my participant, while making use of positional and textual reflexivity to equip my audiences so they can scrutinise my documentary interventions.