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Autistic role models helping to improve quality of life

A research project based at the School of Culture and Society aims to find out how autistic role models can help young people on the autism spectrum to identify positively with their life situation. The Velux Foundation is supporting the project to the tune of DKK 4.6 million.

2018.12.03 | Ulrik Albert Vosgerau

[Translate to English:] Raffaele Rodogno (Foto: AU Foto).

Adults on the autism spectrum do not feel that they are properly understood and appreciated by other people. They often experience a sense of hopelessness and find it hard to imagine a positive future. The aim of the project, the title of which is “Autistic Role Models: Positive Pedagogy for Youth on the Autism Spectrum”, is to help these young people to gain more self-confidence and become more hopeful adults who are able to lead a life that they find fulfilling.

“Our hypothesis is that young people on the autism spectrum are insufficiently exposed to models of the good life that adequately fit their profile. We postulate that exposure to the right role models will facilitate the positive identification of autistic individuals with their condition and reduce their sense of stigma and hopelessness, thereby increasing levels of self-esteem and ultimately the quality of their lives,” explains Associate Professor Raffaele Rodogno, the project manager.

The goal is to design and establish an educational practice that introduces autistic role models to autistic young people. This will involve face-to-face meetings, interactive videos and other media. These role models are chosen in collaboration with members of the autism community. They are young adults with autism who have found their own version of a good adult life.


The project, whose title is “Autistic Role Models: Positive Pedagogy for Youth on the Autism Spectrum”, has been granted DKK 4,651,519 by the Velux Foundation’s HUMpraxis programme and runs from 1 September 2019 until 31 July 2022.

The project will be led by Associate Professor Raffaele Rodogno and involves close collaboration with experts from Langagerskolen (a special school for children and young people with autism), Center for Specialpædagogisk Børnetilbud (a centre for children and young people with special needs in the City of Aarhus), and researchers from Aarhus University.

Raffaele Rodogno
School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University
Web: http://pure.au.dk/portal/da/filrr@cas.au.dk
Tel.: 87 16 22 59
Email: filrr@cas.au.dk