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Exceptional Minds: Where Autism Is No Barrier to Success

By Dan Cowles

Exceptional Minds is an animation studio and digital arts school for young adults who fall on the autism spectrum. A non-profit organization based in Los Angeles, Exceptional Minds exists to train and place students in animation and visual effects jobs in the film industry. But the program goes far beyond technical training. It teaches social and collaborative skills, helps students feel confident in their ability to succeed, and enables them to become more self-sufficient.

Some of the qualities that make the students unique are also skills that make them really good at animation and VFX work. Exceptional MInds students have gone on to make significant contributions to dozens of major Hollywood films, television shows, and animated productions, including blockbusters like Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2; critical favorites like American Hustle; and TV shows like Game of Thrones and Sesame Street.

To visit the Exceptional Minds campus is to be inspired by the buoyant energy and enthusiasm of the students and staff. Watch the video below to meet some of them and see their work.