First Advisor

Sean Schumacher

Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Graphic Design and University Honors


Art + Design




Picture books for children -- Authorship, Autistic people in literature, Autistic children -- Books and reading




How should a content creator, whether they work in film, literature, or sequential art, approach portrayals of Autistic characters? More specifically, how should these altruistic ideas be translated into a better storybook for Autistic children? This is the challenge that I have addressed with my Graphic Design thesis, by writing and illustrating my own children's picture book. The story itself is a spiritual successor to Old World changeling folktales and All Cats Have Asperger's Syndrome (Kathy Hoopman 2006). Though many Autistic people loved Hoopman's book as children, its visual shortcomings and linguistic oversights have marred its intended inclusive, positive message. This plight is not unique to Hoopman's work: carefully researched and executed characters from Rain Man's Raymond to Sesame Street's Julia have also received backlash from the Autistic community. Personally, I attempted to bridge this gap between intent and final product by building it on three pillars: inclusivity, accessibility, and character. Hopefully this story will speak to Autistic peoples' lived experiences, and also share it with a wider, mainstream audience.


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