Autism, Social Connectedness, and Minimal Social Acts

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Autism spectrum condition (henceforth ASC) is a complex psychopathological condition characterized by repetitive and
restricted patterns of behaviors, as well as by impairments in social interaction and communication. This article focuses
on the idea that ASC involves impairments in the capacity to connect with the feelings and actions of others. The metaphor
of social connectedness might be considered somewhat uninformative, hardly specific of ASC, and ultimately compatible
with a variety of competing approaches to social impairments in ASC. Nevertheless, here I develop an account of
social connectedness which plays a distinctive and informative role in further understanding ASC. My strategy is to
explore the role of social reciprocity in relation to the difficulties that persons with ASC have with social connectedness.
Drawing on the work of Peter Hobson, I propose that such difficulties primarily involve experiences and actions that
require the uptake or response from another subject for their fulfillment. I clarify and develop this idea by
introducing the concept of minimal social act, inspired by the work of the phenomenologists Adolf Reinach and Dietrich
von Hildebrand, and by discussing some 4E (i.e., embodied, enactive, embedded, and extended) approaches to ASC. On
the current proposal, minimal social acts are pervasive and developmentally critical experiences that have built into their
conditions of success a receptiveness or responsiveness from the subject to whom they are directed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAdaptive Behavior
ISSN1059-7123
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019

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ID: 199799127