Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Transformative Somatic Practices and Autistic Potentials: An Autoethnographic Exploration
by Walker, Nicholas, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2019, 322; 27665905
Abstract (Summary)

There is a dearth of research and literature on the use of transformative practices by autistic people as a means of pursuing self-actualization and the realization of positive psychospiritual potentials. In this autoethnographic inquiry I examine my experience as an autistic participant in transformative somatic practices, with a focus on my four decades as a student and teacher of aikido and my two decades as a member of an experiential research group exploring movement-oriented ritual as a tool for accessing the realms of the unconscious and the transpersonal. In reflecting upon my experiences, I aim to derive broader insights regarding the ways in which practices like the ones in which I’ve engaged can interact with autistic ways of knowing and being, and regarding the use of such practices toward the realization of autistic potentials and the cultivation of psychospiritual wellbeing and self-actualization in autistic people.

The inquiry is grounded a humanistic perspective and in the neurodiversity paradigm, an emergent framework for research and scholarship that foregrounds the voices and experiences of autistics and other members of neurocognitive minorities. Autoethnography, which utilizes the lived experience of the researcher as a foundation for cultural insight, is a methodology particularly well-suited to this foregrounding of traditionally marginalized voices. In interpreting my experiences and seeking to glean insight from them, I draw upon multiple bodies of theory and literature; I include a literature review that aims at formulating a coherent picture of the overall nature and distinctive qualities of autistic experience, and the subsequent autoethnographic narrative incorporates theories and concepts from the fields of somatic psychology and humanistic psychology.

I conclude the inquiry with reflections on the implications of my narrative with regard to praxis, and with a discussion of possibilities for future research on autistic participation in transformative practices.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Montuori, Alfonso
Commitee: Simons, Shoshana, Yergeau, Melanie
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Transformative Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 81/6(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychology, Developmental psychology, Spirituality
Keywords: Aikido, Autism, Autoethnography, Self-actualization, Somatic psychology, Transpersonal psychology
Publication Number: 27665905
ISBN: 9781392749210
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