For every 68 children born, 1 is diagnosed to be within the Autism Spectrum. It is one of the worse kinds of news to hit new parents and it starts a lifelong journey of worry and struggle.
A major issue is social incorporation for people with neurobehavioral disability like autism, is availability of jobs to live a self-reliant life. The picture is grim.
However, there are instances like that of Patrick Brady, aged 26 years who give hope and motivation to many parents and young minds.
Brady is an expert in the field of animation and has a page on IMDB which boasts of high-grossing Hollywood releases
His expertise on animation has given him opportunities to work in films like ‘American Hustle’, ‘Captain America: Civil War’, and ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ and there are many which are about to be released.
Brady works for Exceptional Minds, EM in short, a non-profit organisation for digital arts, located in Sherman Oaks, in California.
This animation school is entirely dedicated to young people within the Autism Spectrum, making it one of a kind institution.
People with autism, mostly show difficulty in learning organised school syllabus, however, their talents can have outlets in other creative fields.
Exceptional Minds aims to provide creative people with autism, reach their potential and their talents are often utilized in the ever growing Hollywood industry.
Few tasks that are handled by the artists in Exceptional Minds are, rotoscoping, 2D animation, camera stabilization and green screen work. Susan Zwerman, executive director of EM is of the opinion that this school helps typically the kind of people, who would find it difficult to secure a regular job.
According to Susan Zwerman, who has been a visual effects producer, “This type of work is really good for someone with autism,”
The school offers a three year graduate course after which they are given an opportunity to work as Junior artists, after which they become Senior artists of the Exceptional Minds Studio.
In recent times, many technology companies have shown an inclination in hiring people with autism, because of their attention to detail, and ability to do receptive work with concentration.
Similar skills are necessary in programming an animation sequence where details need to be paid attention to, on a frame by frame basis.
These artists show fantastic level of focus, especially, in processes like rotoscoping. “They are really into the pixels, . . . They zoom in and they really want to fix it to the Nth degree”, says Zwerman.
Exceptional Minds started way back in 2009 by Mollie Burns Keith and Yudi Bennett. The very first class of 2011 had just 9 students. By 2015, they managed to expand into an in-house studio with big Hollywood names to hire them.
Unfortunately, the organisation has limited funding due to which they have to often, though unwillingly, turn down a few applicants.
Another artist, Nico Arredondo, has a story to share along the same lines as Patrick Brady. An Argentinian, Arredondo had been searching for an animation school in a number of countries before zeroing in on Exceptional Minds. Today, he has the Marvel film DR Strange, in his resumé.
Every student is given an opportunity to work in the Exceptional Minds Studio. Susan Zwerman brings in the work herself, acting as the middleman between the studio artists and the production house/visual effects studio looking for artists. She brings in the people who match the needed criteria the producers are looking for.
Apart from providing employment opportunity EM workers form a close knit bunch, who are friends outside their work hours.
People like Nico and Patrick can look for work elsewhere, broaden their scopes, have a successful work and life that many others with autism are unable to find.
Institutions like these are what the autism society needs the most to day. It has become necessary to let people with autism know that they too, can choose to dream.