Sarah & Rachael

Dr Sarah White researches autism at UCL and is working with Rachael Pilston, a textile artist…

Luckily, it appears that Rachael and Sarah’s work overlaps a lot. Sarah uses a Block Design test in her work to measure the bias towards processing detail; individuals have to build an image from small cubes.

The majority of people find it easier to complete the segmented form of the test, however they really struggle with the unsegmented form. People with autism find both forms of the test easy, as though their brains naturally see the unsegmented form as if it was already segmented.

Segmented and unsegmented version of the Block Design test
Block Design test







Rachael’s previous work has focused on geometric patters, which are uncannily similar to the above Block design test. Rachael has begun patch-working some tests that Sarah has shown her, and even had the chance to be tested herself!

Autism test
Patchwork for test for autism
‘The spectrum’ – vast individual differences but still able to draw them together by something common to all.









Rachael asked Sarah what colour she thought best described autism.

‘Probably white. People often remark that individuals with autism are removed or untouched from the world. Their inability to lie and deceive adds to this sense of detachment and innocence. As they get older, that seems to be more noticeable – their faces seem less marked by the worries of life. White seems to represent that for me.’

Rachael’s next patchwork will be all white!

Supatra Marsh, Art Neuro Curator

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