Andries Haesevoets wins 7th Passwerk Prize

Andries’s master’s thesis ‘How do children with autism experience target group-oriented theatre lessons? A dynamic analysis based on Disability Studies’ won our 7th Passwerk Prize.

This year, the jury deliberated by video conference. The members of the jury who assessed the master’s theses submitted this year for the 7th edition of our prize were:

  • Dieter Baeyens (KULeuven)

  • Hanne De Brue (KULeuven – moderator)

  • Nico De Cleen (Passwerk/TRplus)

  • Yolande Pacco (Passwerk/TRplus)

  • Peter Van Puyvelde (KULeuven)

Below is a brief summary of Andries’s research.

Our society likes to categorise people. We have no view of the broader context in which we live; instead, we only focus on the ‘limitations’ of the individual. We also look at people with autism in the same way. This master’s thesis goes against these unambiguous, essentialist approaches and investigates – based on different perspectives, coming from the young research field Disability Studies – how children with autism experience theatre lessons.

In this qualitative research, the dominant models of Disability Studies were dynamically applied to two children with autism in a group of eight during theatre lessons taught by Ingrid Dullens. The series of lessons was organised specifically for children with autism. Haesevoets observed and interviewed the two participants of the study throughout the entire series of lessons. In this way, he tried to get closer to their experiences of the theatre lessons. The aim of this master’s thesis is to gain better insight into these experiences.

Although both participants were diagnosed with autism, it became clear that they did not experience the acting lessons in the same way. They are two different children, each with their own character and unique personality, despite their autism. People with autism are more than their diagnosis. Everyone is different. So go in search of who you really are and try not to let the prevailing standards dictate who you can be. Believe in yourself and in others around you. You are worth more than you think.

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