Autism and engagement with material culture

Barry Wright*, Hannah Pearson, Penny Spikins, Callum Scott, John Schofield

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Autism spectrum conditions are widely characterised as a cognitive difference which affects social understanding and behaviour. However, evidence increasingly suggests that the condition also affects engagement with material aspects of the environment. Here we review research into how autism affects engagement with the material world. We argue that, whilst there are important distinctions, autism affects perception of the social and material world in similar ways. Furthermore, a subtly different engagement with the material world can bring certain advantages and social contributions. We discuss implications for future research and for inclusion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-39
Number of pages22
JournalInterdisciplinary science reviews
Early online date6 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2021 Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining Published by Taylor & Francis on behalf of the Institute. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details


  • art
  • Autism spectrum conditions
  • buildings
  • material culture
  • objects
  • personal possessions
  • special isolated skills

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