New research projects on neurodiversity and mental health by HHH members

Research on the history of autism advocacy

HHH board member Gemma Blok will supervise a PhD project by Niels Springveld on the history of autism. Niels has just been awarded NWO funding. His project title is “Fascinating Peculiarities: Autism Advocacy in the Netherlands, 1973-1985”.

Project description

This dissertation describes the history of autism advocacy in the Netherlands in the 1970s and 1980s. During this period, parents set up the first interest groups, media attention arose for this then still obscure syndrome and autism was placed on the government agenda. The question of how advocacy activities have influenced the relationship with autism is explored through archival research and interviews with early activists, their autistic and neurotypical children, and healthcare professionals. The struggle for the social recognition of autism is explained using insights from the field of Critical Autism Studies.

Research on students with mental health problems and/or neurodiversity

HHH member Femke Kok has been awarded the Comenius Senior Fellowship for her project called: ‘Nothing about us without us. Towards accessible and stigma-free education for students with mental health problems, autism and ADHD.’

There is a paradox, writes Femke Kok in her application. Education that addresses issues around mental health, such as stigma or exclusion, can itself sometimes lead to exclusion for students with mental health issues (such as anxiety or depression), autism, and ADHD. The confrontation with these topics or the way they are taught can cause stress that exacerbates mental health problems. Because of these psychological complaints, these students have less chances of successfully completing their education. The aim of the project is to destigmatise education by researching the experiences of students who are facing these issues whilst following a course at the Open University.

You can read more about the project by visiting this page (in Dutch).