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De-fusing and re-fusing face-to-face encounters involving autistic persons in Hong Kong

Alex Cockain (Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)

Tizard Learning Disability Review

ISSN: 1359-5474

Article publication date: 2 February 2021

Issue publication date: 30 April 2021




This article documents accounts of the tactics parents and siblings of autistic persons in Hong Kong deploy to manage social encounters. This article aims to consider the impact of such tactics and their enmeshment with factors that combine to limit satisfactory outcomes and outlines a project intent upon contriving dialogue between persons.


This qualitative project elicited stories and accounts (or narratives) produced by persons involved in encounters involving autistic persons. This project also intervened in these encounters.


Persons involved in social encounters are de-fused, in the sense of being disconnected. The emotions persons experience through these encounters (e.g. and especially anxiety) remain hidden. Dialogue has the capacity to re-fuse, not only reconnecting but also rejecting unsatisfactory arrangements.


The dialogue produced in the article may extend beyond the specific circumstances and persons considered, potentially reducing the barriers and distances between autistic persons and others.



The work described in this article was fully supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (PolyU 256022/18H). Thank you to Professor McGill for his support throughout the process from submission to publication of this article and to anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions about earlier drafts. I am also, and especially, grateful to the people who took time to share their experiences of the social encounters to which this article refers.


Cockain, A. (2021), "De-fusing and re-fusing face-to-face encounters involving autistic persons in Hong Kong", Tizard Learning Disability Review, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 34-42.



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