Ed Asner Speaks Out in New PSA Regarding the Employability of Young Adults with Autism

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More than a million young adults living with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are expected to age out of high school in the next ten years with few or no job prospects. Ed Asner speaks out in this PSA about how vocational schools like Exceptional Minds in Hollywood are changing that, and changing the employment prospects for these young men and women.

Exceptional Minds vocational school for young adults on the autism spectrum

(Here is) an answer for many and a model for many others who might not do well in a university or other school setting that doesn’t provide the support, the instruction, and the environment they need.

More than a million young adults living with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are expected to age out of high school in the next ten years, even as few secondary education programs exist to prepare them for meaningful careers. For many parents of ASD children, and for society as a whole, the inevitable question is, what happens when the school bus stops coming?

According to a recent study prepared for the U.S. Department of Education, one in three young adults with autism lacks job experience or skills eight years after high school graduation.

An estimated 90 percent of adults with autism are currently unemployed.

This, despite the exceptional technical aptitude of many individuals living with autism spectrum disorders. Indeed, proficiency in computer animation and programming is often one of the hallmarks of ASD. Or, as noted ASD speaker Dr. Temple Grandin says, “Who do you think made the first stone spear? It wasn’t the yakety-yaks around the campfire.”

In an effort to bring awareness to the employability of this growing population, Exceptional Minds vocational school for young adults on the autism spectrum has launched its first Public Service Announcement (PSA). In it, actor Ed Asner, whose son and grandson are living with autism and who sits on the advisory board for Exceptional Minds, describes the school as “nothing short of a miracle.”

About Exceptional Minds:
A 501(c) (3) charitable organization located in Sherman Oaks, California, Exceptional Minds is the first vocational school specifically for young adults on the spectrum with a proven, three-year program that is now preparing these young men and women for lifelong careers in the fields of animation, computer graphics and post-production. It was established in 2011 by visionaries in the film and visual effects industry to create a bridge between high school and the working world for individuals with ASD and quickly gained notoriety as a model for “what’s next” in autism as the first school of its kind to earn industry-recognized accreditation for its students and to provide them with working experience in the industry, including title work for major motion picture Lawless.

“Exceptional Minds is not the answer for everyone with autism. But we are an answer for many and a model for many others who might not do well in a university or other school setting that doesn’t provide the support, the instruction, and the environment they need,” said Yudi Bennett, Director of Operations for Exceptional Minds.

Now entering its second year, 95% of Exceptional Minds students have met or exceeded proficiency requirements for Adobe certification in animated graphics, and several more students have gone on to meet or exceed proficiency requirements for Adobe certification in web design and graphics.

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Yudi Bennett

Dee McVicker
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