PhD defence by - Petko Karadechev

The neurodivergent producer: Exploration of socio-technical needs and ambitions via digital interventions


15.11.2022 kl. 09.00 - 12.00


Thomas (the original name has been anonymized) experiences the world differently than most of his peers, and he also lives with a medical diagnosis about his cognitive abilities that changes the trajectory of his life in very real terms. For example, in present-day Denmark, Thomas can go to special schools, can later move to a sheltered residence if he prefers, and will likely receive municipal support based on his condition for years to come. Thomas, however, also has access to free and easily available digital tools. He has taught himself how to use them to create a digital 3D model of a “cyberpunk city” (as part of this thesis) and was able to insert a video of himself as a virtual tourist in the “city”. Earlier in the process, Thomas co-created a video tutorial teaching potential viewers how to recreate the introduction animation of the Netflix show “Stranger Things”, demonstrating a strong desire to share his technical expertise with a broader audience. In an interview, he stated that he wants to create environments, which will allow others to experience and feel what he feels.

This PhD thesis explores questions around the co-development and use of digital interventions, which can support digital co-production practices, ambitions, and social engagement through active participation for young, neurodivergent people. The codevelopment process allowed for an exploration of different types of socio-technical needs and ambitions that can be useful both for caretakers, teachers and practitioners in special needs institutions in Denmark, as well as to researchers in human-computer interaction, critical disability studies, interaction design, and more.

Methodological contributions (e.g., video tutorials and online sessions) and theoretical conceptualizations (e.g., hybrid contact zones) are offered as examples on how neurodivergent youth can be engaged as co-producers (a non-traditional role for them), as well as challenge existing research practices around this target group.


Professor Jacob Buur | University of Southern Denmark, Denmark Associate Professor Niels Hendricks | University of Leuven, Belgium Professor Stine W. Adrian (Chair) | Department of Culture and Learning, AAU, Denmark

Main supervisor Professor and Prorector Anne Marie Kanstrup | Department of Planning, AAU, Denmark  
Co-supervisor Associate Professor Jacob Davidsen | Department of Communication and Psychology, AAU, Denmark

Associate Professor Tom Børsen | Department of Planning, Aalborg University, DK


Department of Planning


A.C. Meyers Vænge 15, 2450 Copenhagen SV, Auditorium ACM15(A) 1.008

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10.11.2022 kl. 12.00

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