“Autism itself is not hell. Hell arises only through a society that refuses to accept people who are different from the norm or wants to force these people to adapt." (O'Neill 2001, S. 71)

The research network between White Unicorn e.V., Dr. Mark Benecke, International Forensic Research & Consulting and the Humboldt University of Berlin, represented by Prof. Dr. Vera Moser, serves the development of an autistic-friendly environment by generating knowledge. 


In this social space-oriented (Fürst, Hinte 2017 p. 42), participative research (Unger 2014), it is therefore also a question of what forms, competencies and basic conditions are necessary to improve the living conditions (Theunissen 2012) in the sense of a Universal Design (United Nations - Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities UN-CRPD) for autistic people. Questions of practice are taken up, in search of answers. The result and its presentation are to be understood as a formulated interest in knowledge of practice (Fürst, Hinte 2017, p. 42) and the reality of life of the handicapped by barriers. (UN-CRPD)

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White Unicorn e.V.

Hultschiner Damm 148

12623 Berlin



Basics for the generation of knowledge


Waldenfels believes that the supposed "understanding" of another human being is firstly an illusion, secondly an appropriation and thirdly a self-robbery (cf. Waldenfels 1990, p. 33). "(An illusion), because it denies the last impenetrable strangeness and loneliness even in the most intimate contact: What I can experience from the other is never his experience or state, but always only my experience of what he or she announces or reveals about his experience or state. ... (An appropriation because), it subjects one or the other to my understanding of the world. ... (A self robbery), because it brings me to the encounter with strangers and freezes my experience on the level of the known" (Waldenfels quotes after Gronemeyer 2014, p. 154).


For White Unicorn e.V. this thought is very important and tries to verify the generation of knowledge accordingly, so that no encroachments happen and thus suffering in the surveys is avoided. It is about gathering, documenting, generating knowledge without exposing the test persons to an alleged understanding of them, which was also recorded in our ethical positioning.

Autism and barriers

Autism is a genetically-based human neurological variant. Autism is a developmental phenomenon, meaning that it begins in utero that it is congenital, and that it has a pervasive influence on development, on multiple levels, throughout the lifespan. Autism produces distinctive, atypical ways of thinking, moving, interaction, and sensory and cognitive processing. (Walker 2015) 


Autism is to be understood as a term for a neurological change in the form of a human way of being, in the context of human diversity. (Theunissen 2014, p.16) From a neurobiological perspective, the "Intense World Theory" of Markrams attempts to summarize many of the previous hypotheses and explanations on autism (Theunissen 2014, p. 65).


By early retreat due to overload in an environment with too many stimuli, children miss the so-called sensitive phase. Then these children would have social and linguistic problems not because of neuronal weaknesses, but because in the phase receptive to the formation of these abilities important impulses got lost in the chaos of stimuli. In this way, early countermeasures - reducing the intense stimuli of the environment - would preserve their talents and at the same time mitigate or completely avoid disabilities. (Szalawitz 2015, p. 6). 


An autistic child’s sensory experience of the world is more intense and chaotic than that of a non-autistic child, and the ongoing task of controlling and integrating that experience thus occupies more of the autistic child’s attention and energy. This means the autistic child has less attention and energy available to focus on the subtleties of social interaction. The difficulty in meeting the social expectations of non-autistics often results in social rejection, which further compounds social difficulties and impedes social development. For this reason, autism has been frequently misconstrued as being essentially a set of “social and communication deficits,” by those who are unaware that the social challenges faced by autistic individuals are just by-products of the intense and chaotic nature of autistic sensory and cognitive experience. (Walker 2015)


Barrier-sensitive school design


The school context must be as adequate as possible, especially with regard to dealing with (Theunissen 2014, p. 198ff.) and the dismantling of barriers to the school participation of autistic people. (UN-CRPD) Barrier dismantling with professional project planning serves the development of a good healthy school (Nieskens 2006). In barrier-sensitive school design, we assume that an ideology of normality must be viewed critically. (Kastl 2010, p. 51-55 )


The aim is to focus attention on where barriers exist in front of pupils which stand in the way of participation in class; if possible to break them down or - since some barriers are diametrically opposed to each other - at least to make them regulable.(Hinz 2009, p. 179) The children should thus be strengthened in their self-concept in a largely barrier-free environment, so that they can successfully participate in school without being hindered by barriers, which can succeed through a culture of recognition and appreciation of diversity. This requires a clear commitment to inclusive principles (Werning 2013, p. 51) that require stronger school development. 


A reduction of the social negative reaction (with the concept of disability) must also be further developed in living inclusion, so that a development of inclusive schools is possible through a consistent collection of knowledge from research (Moser and Deppe-Wolfinger 2013, p.8). Barrier-sensitive school design becomes possible in this way, in which primary socialization processes for the creation of autonomy in the sense of empowerment already take place.(Waldschmidt 2005, p. 13, Schirbort et al. 2011, 169 f.) 




Fürst, Roland; Hinte, Wolfgang (2017): Sozialraumorientierung, Ein Studienbuch zu fachlichen, institutionellen und finanziellen Aspekten

Gronemeyer, Marianne (2014): Das Leben als letzte Gelegenheit

Hinz, Andreas (2009): Inklusive Pädagogik in der Schule – veränderter Orientierungsrahmen für die schulische Sonderpädagogik!? Oder doch deren Ende? In: Zeitschrift für Heilpädagogik 60 (5), S. 171–179.

Kastl, Jörg Michael (2010): Einführung in die Soziologie der Behinderung. Wiesbaden: VS Verl. für Sozialwiss. Online verfügbar unter

Moser, Vera; Deppe-Wolfinger, Helga (Hg.) (2013): Die inklusive Schule. Standards für die Umsetzung. 2. Aufl. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Online verfügbar unter

Nieskens, Birgit (2006): Entwicklung einer gesunden Schule durch Projektmanagement

Schirbort, Kerstin; Schubert, Michael; Kulig, Wolfram (Hg.) (2011): Empowerment behinderter Menschen. Theorien, Konzepte, Best-Practice. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer (Heil- und Sonderpädagogik)

Szalawitz, Maia (2015): Eine zu intensive Welt.

Theunissen, Georg (2012): Lebensweltbezogene Behindertenarbeit und Sozialraumorientierung: Eine Einführung in die Praxis ISBN 978-3784121185

Theunissen, Georg (2014): Menschen im Autismus-Spektrum. Verstehen - annehmen - unterstützen ; ein Lehrbuch für die Praxis. 1. Auflage. Stuttgart: Verlag W. Kohlhammer


Unger von, Helga, (2014): Partizipative Forschung ISBN 978-3-658-01289-2

O'Neill, Jasmine Lee (2001): Autismus von Innen. Nachrichten aus einer verborgenen Welt.

Waldenfels Bernhard (1990): Der Stachel des Fremden

Waldschmidt, Anne (2005 (1)): Disability Studies: Individuelles, soziales und/oder kulturelles Modell von Behinderung? In: Clemens Dannenbeck und Claudia Franziska Bruner (Hg.): Psychologie & Gesellschaftskritik. 29. Jahrgang, 29. Jahrgang, Nr 113, 2005, Heft 1. 29. Jahrgang. Gießen: Psychosozial-Verlag (113), S. 9–31.

Walker, Nick (2015): Die wirklichen Experten: Lektüren für Eltern autistischer Kinder

Werning, Rolf (2013): Inklusive Schulentwicklung. In: Vera Moser und Helga Deppe-Wolfinger (Hg.): Die inklusive Schule. Standards für die Umsetzung. 2. Aufl. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, S. 49–61.