MEET OUR AUTISTIC FACULTY
SPHARC has co-created an Autistic Faculty that will help keep Autistic voices front and center in our work, as well as prioritizing SPHARC programs/activities that are co-designed together with autistic voices.
The “Autistic Faculty” will regularly be involved in program planning and provide feedback to SPHARC staff on different materials and deliverables. Deliverables might be things like ideas, writing, speaking, or involvement.
The vision of the Autistic Faculty is to always involve autistic voices in the creation of SPHARC programs, events, media, and other materials. The goal is to co-design programs, activities, and events with autistic people.
The Autistic Faculty will help advise and inform SPHARC on:
improving practices to be more engaging of people with lived experience and more accessible.
the use of language around autism and other developmental disabilities and making materials and communications more focused on autism acceptance and disability justice.
The implementation of the Autistic Faculty will be a model for public health programs and other organizations to show how to include all voices in their work, but especially voices from the disability community and those with lived experience. Although there are many models of “advisory councils” for those with lived experience, our goal is to make the Autistic Faculty unique, in the sense that the members will truly co-design the model.
On this page, you can learn more about each member of the Autistic Faculty, recent Autistic Faculty conference presentations, and podcast episodes featuring the Autistic Faculty.
Meet Our Autistic Faculty
Dave Caudel, PhD
Frist Center for Autism and Innovation at Vanderbilt University
Dr. Dave Caudel is the associate director of the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation at Vanderbilt University in Nashville Tennessee. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2009, Caudel is a neurodivergence advocate, speaking to a variety of organizations, including the U.N. and autism conferences internationally. For much of his life, he struggled to find his place in the world, and has had a number of careers, including videographer, soldier in the U.S. Army, journalist, photojournalist, magazine editor, public affairs specialist, truck salesman, and corporate stints from customer service to loss prevention, just to name a few, before deciding to give, “this college thing a try.” He received his Ph.D. in Physics at Vanderbilt University in 2017. He serves on the advisory committee for the Center for Discovery, Innovation, and Development (CDID) at Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Jersey, the Vanderbilt University Diversity Council and the All Access Inclusion Network, and is a founding member of the Vanderbilt Autism and Neurodiversity Alliance. His research interests include gamma spectrometers for astrophysics applications and meaningful employment for adults on the spectrum by finding novel, innovative ways to measure their strengths, talents, and passions, then match those to specialized business needs, as well as determining the programs and training needed to maximize success in the workplace.
Morénike Giwa Onaiwu
Advocate, Public Speaker, Writer, Educator, Researcher, Mom
Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, PhD(c), MA, (she/her/they/them pronouns) is an educator, writer, public speaker, parent, and global advocate whose work focuses on meaningful community involvement and leadership, disability, racial, and gender equity, dismantling stigma, and inclusion and empowerment. Morénike has been published by Palgrave MacMillan, Jessica Kingsley Publishing, and most recently, Beacon Press. Often drawing from relevant educational and professional experience combined with lived expertise as a multicultural non-binary woman of color in a neurodiverse and serodifferent family; late-diagnosed adult on the autism spectrum; and survivor of intimate partner violence, Morénike is a highly sought-after presenter, consultant, and subject matter expert who resides in the US Gulf Coast with a spouse and and six amazing biological and internationally adopted pre-teen to young adult children with disabilities. Morénike, a Humanities Scholar at Rice University, is also founder and principal operator of Advocacy Without Borders and holds leadership positions in various organizations, including Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network, Foundations for Divergent Minds, and Dove Orchids.
Haley Moss, Esq.
Attorney, Author, Advocate
My name is Haley Moss. I was diagnosed with autism when I was 3 years old. Today, I am an attorney, author, advocate, artist and consultant who is passionate about disability inclusion and neurodiversity. I take that passion to help our world be more inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities. My personal and professional experiences allow me to bring unique insight and perspective across different professions and settings. I am a keynote speaker and educator. I love to speak publicly about my experiences and be in front of a crowd (while autism may make socializing difficult for me sometimes, I happen to very much enjoy public speaking). In fact, my philosophy is that if sharing my story could make a difference in one person’s life, then it was all worth it. I also am an adjunct professor at Taylor University in the Psychology department.
As an author, I’ve written four books – one on the middle school years, one about college, one about the transition to adulthood and independence, and one about neurodiversity for lawyers and other professionals. My writing has also been featured in various media outlets and legal journals. I write about autism in various contexts, whether it be personal experiences, media representation, politics, or how important it is to be heard and part of the conversation. After all, there is a famous saying in the disability community: “nothing about us, without us.”
I speak, share, and advocate to create change because I believe the world needs to be ready and accepting of all kinds of bodies and minds. The future begins now. The future is neurodiverse. The future is accessible. The future is people with disabilities. I’m ready. Are you?
The Autistic Faculty has presented at several different conferences. Read more below about some recent conference presentations.
2022 AUCD Conference
The Autistic Faculty presented at the 2022 AUCD Conference in November 2022. Their panel presentation was called “The Autistic Faculty: Creating a Model to Infuse and Elevate Lived Experience Year-Round.” You can watch a practice recording from that presentation below.
2023 AMCHP Conference
The Autistic Faculty is presenting a workshop at the 2023 AMCHP Conference in May 2023.
Autistic Faculty Podcast Episodes
The Autistic Faculty was featured on an AMCHP MCH Bridges podcast episode. The episode, “The Joy of Autism: A New Way of Thinking,” was created for Autism Acceptance Month 2023 but discusses topics that need to be talked about year-round like neurodiversity, ways that Autistic and non-Autistic people are similar and how we are all connected as humans, and what celebrating autistic joy means to them.