About the Author


In 1998, after her youngest child Kevin was diagnosed with autism, Debra cut back her work hours as systems analyst to focus on her son and two older children. Networking and creating relationships with a number of entities became her focus to create better systems for Kevin and other people with developmental disabilities.

During the years 2000-2007, she was a founding member and officer of the Autism Society of Santa Barbara, The Rhythmic Arts Project, and Project Angels Bearing Gifts – all organizations that serve the developmentally disabled. These nonprofits remain viable and thriving organizations.

In 2003, Kevin was introduced to art by a clinician with the UCSB Koegel Autism Center. In 2005, Debra began curating art exhibits for her son and other people who were marginalized in society, including prisoners, the mentally ill, and the developmentally disabled.

In 2007, Debra was approached by Karen Simmons of Autism Today to create the second “Artism” book. “Artism: The Art of Autism: Shattering Myths” featured 54 artists on the autism spectrum from around the world including her son Kevin. In 2012, Debra published her own book “The Art of Autism: Shifting Perceptions,” featuring art and poetry of 77 autistic artists. During this time she co-founded with film-maker Keri Bowers The Art of Autism collaborative project which now includes over 250 artists, poets, and entertainers on the autism spectrum from twenty different countries and over 35 collaborating like-minded organizations. The Art of Autism website features a popular virtual art gallery. In 2014 it had visitors from 151 different countries. Debra shares art, poetry, and more daily on The Art of Autism Facebook page.

Debra and her son Kevin have been featured in two documentaries about art and autism and she has been featured on radio and television shows, including NPR. Debra has written articles for publications and blogs, including Family Circle, Autism Eye, The Autism File, Babble, Zoom Magazine, and the Australian Autism Asperger Network Magazine. Debra has presented at art associations, universities and autism events across the country. Debra curates the popular column Minds Eye for the Autism File magazine. Her website is www.autismwhale.com.