Our answer was to create a (vocational) program that would give them an edge, with accreditation and workplace experience that would make them valuable employees.
Sherman Oaks, California (PRWEB) December 23, 2012
As an eventful 2012 comes to a close, outspoken actor Ed Asner is advocating for effective autism programs like Exceptional Minds, a nonprofit computer animation vocational school that is reaching inside the minds and hopes of young adults on the autism spectrum.
“I approve, hell, I love this message,” said Asner, in a new video released this month by Exceptional Minds, the poster child for “what’s next” in autism as a million young adults on the spectrum age out of the school system in the next decade and enter the workforce.
An estimated 90 percent of young adults with autism are currently unemployed.
“Our answer was to create a (vocational) program that would give them an edge, with accreditation and workplace experience that would make them valuable employees,” said Exceptional Minds Program Director Ernie Merlan.
Exceptional Minds was started in late 2011 by visionaries in the film and visual effects industry to prepare these young adults for careers in animation and post-production. Within months the vocational school doubled its student population and expanded its facility to meet demand by the autism community, many of whom are unemployed or underemployed but demonstrate an aptitude for computer animation and technology in general.
Overnight, the new vocational school went from idea to Hollywood prodigy with students working on several movie projects, including title work for major motion picture Lawless. By year’s end, six Exceptional Minds students had earned movie credits for their work on films and more had received industry-recognized accreditation for proficiency in several Adobe graphics applications.
“Exceptional Minds is an amazing model. They give them confidence, they give them certification, they give them something tangible to use in their future,” said Matt Asner with Autism Speaks, in the video.
Several organizations, including Newman’s Own Foundation, contributed grant money to the vocational school this month, joining Tom Hanks, DreamWorks Animation, Adobe Systems, Bob Stevenson, Neil Young and other Exceptional Minds sponsors in funding the school and to help meet the groundswell of demand by young adults on the spectrum in need of job skills.
The Exceptional Minds board of directors met halfway through the year to chart out an aggressive 12-year expansion plan that calls for a state-of-the-art studio and visual effects sound room for a student population that is expected to double every three years. The program is expected to provide a blueprint for other vocational schools serving individuals with ASD in related industries.
Exceptional Minds’ new video documents the successes it has had so far, and sets the stage for what will come in the months ahead. “What you are about to see is nothing short of a miracle,” said Asner, who is the parent and grandparent of a child with autism and is on the Exceptional Minds advisory board.
The 501(c) (3) charitable organization starts 2013 with a large waiting list of young adults on the spectrum wanting to enroll in its three-year program, and the support of actors like Asner and others who generously donate their time and money to this new vocational school. All donation details are on the school’s website.
About Exceptional Minds (http://www.exceptionalmindsstudio.org)
Exceptional Minds is a non-profit vocational center and working production studio for young adults on the autism spectrum. Chartered in 2011 to provide the training necessary for visually-gifted individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who may not otherwise be able to make the transition from high school to the working world, Exceptional Minds offers technical proficiency and work readiness skills that prepare students for careers in graphic arts, animation, web design, visual effects and rotoscoping. Located in Sherman Oaks, California, Exceptional Minds is both an instructional learning facility and a working studio with hands-on student involvement in production projects, many for the film industry.