Breaking the Stigma around Autism: an Interactive Art Exhibition

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DeGrie, Jillian
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
Neurodivergence affects an ever-growing percentage of the population. For years, the definition of autism was based solely on the experience of nerdy white boys. Modern-day research on autism is finally beginning to include people of other ages, genders, and races. Thus, more people are being diagnosed today than ever before. However, the stigma surrounding autism has not adjusted accordingly. Inaccurate representations in the media, preexisting stereotypes, and the taboo surrounding mental health discussions has prevented an accurate understanding of autism by neurotypical people. This project is my attempt to destigmatize autism through an education-based approach. I created an interactive art exhibition that allows the viewer to experience aspects of autism themselves to better learn how the disability affects autistic people. This, in turn, opened the door for discussions about basic human differences and mental health, a conversation that benefits everyone, neurotypical or neurodivergent.