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UST Hosts “Celebrating Neurodiversity” Art Showcase on Dec. 5

Celebrating Neurodiversity Art ShowcaseThe University of St. Thomas-Houston and its Office of Access and Diversity Services will host the "Celebrating Neurodiversity" Art Showcase highlighting the advantages and creativity of neurodiversity by displaying selected artworks from neurodiversity students in the Houston area. 

The fundraising awareness event is Monday, Dec. 5, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the University's Link Lee Mansion, 3800 Montrose Blvd. The gallery show includes two UST students earning an Associate in Applied Science in Pragmatic Studies, Madison Brooks and Ariel Blackshure.

Brooks has been cutting paper and making paper figures since he was four-years-old.  Even though his family told him he had talent, he did not want anyone to see his art.  Encouraged by his parents and the chair of the UST Pragmatic Studies Program, Dr. Tera Jean Torres and others, Brooks mustered the courage.

“I realized that I need to do this to overcome my fear and to show other students like me that you should be proud of your talents although they may be different from others,” Brooks said.

One of UST's roles in the Art Showcase will be to compile and feature artwork in a coffee-table-style book, serving as a donor gift. 

"It is a great joy for me to be a part of this event that will showcase the gifts and talents of our neurodiverse community in Houston," Angie Maxey, director of UST's Access and Disability Services (ADS), said. "Everyone is invited to join this celebration to strengthen our commitment to inclusion and support access to dyslexia evaluations through the HBIDAs scholarship funds."

The Artist and Pediatrician is the Founder of Showcase

The Art Showcase links fine arts and the medical community and was founded in 2020 by Dr. Anson J. Koshy, M.D., MBE; past president of HBIDA and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children's Hospital. He is also an adjunct Associate Professor with the McGovern Center for humanities and ethics and a board-certified Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician. Dr. Koshy is also an artist; his vibrant works hang in local venues. This art showcase is the first year the Celebrate Neurodiversity art showcase can display artwork at an in-person event before the COVID pandemic.

The event brings together interested parties ranging from early education to high schools to higher education to the corporate world. These participants foster conversations about the strengths of Houston's neurodivergent students and how the community can encourage and mentor them to succeed.. All proceeds from this ticketed fundraiser will go to the Houston Branch of The International Dyslexia Association scholarship funds.

According to Maxey, the University encourages applicants to the University or students to tap into HBIDA's scholarship funds when they need a dyslexia evaluation.

What is Neurodiversity?

The term "neurodivergent" describes differences in the human brain as natural and normal versus a deficit. We use the word "neurodiversity" to describe individuals with neurological or developmental conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), dyslexia, or other learning disabilities. 

Neurodiversity awareness aims to increase the acceptance and inclusion of all people while embracing neurological differences.  

Based on different studies, 15-20% of the population is neurodiverse – including up to 10% of people diagnosed with dyslexia, 5% diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and 1-2% with an autism spectrum disorder.

Employer Trends in Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

A growing diversity and inclusion trend in 2021 and beyond is corporations setting transparent targets, goals, and D&I initiatives. Corporate leaders in D&I include Ernst & Young, which offers a diverse and inclusive workplace that makes everyone, regardless of who they are or what they do for the business, feel equally involved in and supported in all work areas. Attending the events are EY representatives and UST's Career Services.