Abigail Jackson is an MPhil/PhD candidate as part of the Transtechnology Research Group at Plymouth University, and has received AHRC funding via the The 3D3 Centre for Doctoral Training. With an Undergraduate Dance Theatre Degree in Dance Theatre, and a Masters of Research dance both being achieved at Plymouth University her current research has developed into a multidisciplinary project. The research project aims to facilitate expressive movement sessions, in the development of a creative intervention, for children holding a diagnosis of autism, with digital mediation embedded in its investigation. The progression of this project is aligning with research into the increased connection with technology, for the autistic child, as new technologies are introduced to the schooling, and home, environment.
This diagnosis of autism specifies difficulties in the development of complex social interaction, social communication and social imagination, which are three areas of specific interest through my research projects.
To pursue this research Abigail will explore the influences of movement practices of Contact Improvisation, Authentic Movement, Somatic Movement Practices and the influence of Phenomenology. The movement sessions applied here are bringing together mimicry and imitation, to become a innovative tool to develop a trusting relationship between the child participant and adult facilitator, as well as to aid the development of self-referential ability in the autistic child. It is through practical and physical engagement with the participants that she has been able to comprehend the importance of combining these research investigations for the pursuit of her primary research, and this will form a comparative study of expressive movement session, with and without technological involvement. The movement sessions become a method in this primary research, and are a platform for the involvement of mimicry and imitations, in collaboration with projected images, ad the technological mediation, with the prediction of enhance self referential ability, which is an area of development connected to complex empathetic understanding and social interaction, social communication and social imagination. This area is of particular significance when connecting research surrounding the heightened affiliation with technology, evidenced by a large percentage of children on the autistic spectrum and aims to inform the research surrounding Autism and the use of technology within current interventions.
Alongside the MPhil stage of this MPhil/PhD Abigail is undertaking a Post Graduate Certificate in Autism – focusing on children – as a distance-learning course delivered by Birmingham University, with the hope to develop an understanding and comprehension of the diagnosis from the field of Social Sciences, as well as the Arts. She is also a movement and dance practitioner working in the South West and has been based in Plymouth for six year. Throughout her MPhil/PhD she will retain employment working with children in a Dance setting.