Autism Experts at DePaul University Discuss Education, Awareness

Scholars explain advances in representation and care for people with autism

Faculty experts can discuss strategies for teachers and parents of children with autism, as well as ways that theatre and mass media are becoming more inclusive for people with autism. (iStock.com/Weekend Images Inc.)
Faculty experts can discuss strategies for teachers and parents of children with autism, as well as ways that theatre and mass media are becoming more inclusive for people with autism. (iStock.com/Weekend Images Inc.)
Advances in education and the arts are changing the lives of people with autism, and DePaul University experts are available to discuss their research on accessibility and care. Scholars can discuss designing theatre performances for people with autism, advances in special education, media representation of autism and other disabilities, and communication methods for adults and children with autism and their parents. Available experts in the College of Communication include:

Veronica Appleton
Veronica Appleton, Adjunct Faculty, Communication and Media, and Intercultural Communication, College of Communication. Appleton is a multicultural children’s book author and an expert on health communication and organizational learning. She can discuss representations of autism and disability in the media, including the character of Julia, the first Muppet with autism on “Sesame Street.” “Media serves a larger purpose than just entertainment,” said Appleton. “Media can provide children and their families an opportunity to really develop and grow through images that reflect who they truly are.”

Appleton offers the following advice: “For parents it’s really important to develop a strong relationship with your child. Create a community of support around your child whether it is other family members, friends, teachers or others. They deserve the opportunity to really develop themselves as a human being.” Appleton can be reached at vappleto@depaul.edu.

Maureen Ryan
Maureen Ryan, Adjunct Faculty, Media and Cinema Studies, College of Communication. Ryan is an expert on representation in media and film history. “Historically there have been so few representations of people with autism in television that it's been left out of media discussions of childhood, learning, and disability altogether,” Ryan said. “Because of that, there is a lot of confusion and mystery surrounding autism and how it affects people. Television hasn't done much to dispel that until very recently.”

In regards to the character of Julia, the new “Sesame Street” Muppet who has autism, Ryan said, “I'm hopeful that this new character will help reduce the stigma of autism in our society, especially for parents and children who do not have autism and don't really understand what it means to have autism. ‘Sesame Street’ is making Julia part of the community and explaining in a friendly way what it's like to have autism, and how you can better relate to people who have it.” Ryan can be reached at mryan58@depaul.edu.