Chapman University’s Leatherby Libraries hosted an impactful photographic exhibit and panel event titled Acceptance: A Step to Promote Awareness and Understanding of Autism. The photographic exhibition was curated by lecturer Bernie Dickson in the Doy and Dee Henley Reading Room of the Leatherby Libraries. The event marked a significant stride from raising awareness to fostering acceptance of autism through art and conversation.

Leathery Libraries

Dickson’s inspiration for the curated exhibit began after being inspired by her family’s experience during social isolation. As the family began adapting to their new routine, they found empathy and connection to one another on their path toward finding a new normal. The family’s acceptance of their new normal mirrored the acceptance of the role of autism in their sons’ lives.

To complement the exhibition, the Leatherby Libraries organized a panel discussion aimed at discussing autism’s societal and personal impacts from both academic and lifestyle perspectives. Dr. Meghan Cosier, Attallah College Professor and the Executive Director of the Thompson Policy Institute on Disability (TPI), moderated the panel, which included Dickson, Dr. Amy Jane Griffiths, Associate Professor at Chapman University, and Stephen Hinkle, a Chapman PhD student and self-advocate.

Leatherby Libraries

“The vision of TPI is to work toward a world in which all people in the disability community thrive. We were eager to collaborate on this interdisciplinary event with Essraa Nawar and Bernie Dickson,” says Dr. Meghan Cosier, Attallah College Professor and the Executive Director of TPI. 

Dr. Griffiths’s panel discussion included presentations with Dr. Amy E. Hurley-Hanson and Dr. Cristina M. Giannantonio, Professors of Management in the Argyros College of Business and Management, as they discussed their co-authored book “Autism in the Workplace: Creating Positive Outcomes for Generation A.”

Dr. Griffiths shared critical points from the co-authored book during the panel, saying that data indicate employers who embrace and encourage diverse ways of thinking are more successful and solve problems more effectively. She added that diversity of thought adds value to our lives and our workplaces.

The panel promoted an inclusive dialogue, celebrating the contributions of neurodivergent individuals globally. The event aligns with Chapman University’s Strategic Plan for Diversity & Inclusion, which aims to foster a diverse and inclusive campus climate.

Dickson’s photography book is now available at the Leatherby Libraries.