Exceptional Minds

  • Exceptional Minds is a nonprofit vocational center and working production studio for young adults on the autism spectrum. Exceptional Minds offers technical proficiency and work-readiness training that prepares students for careers in graphic arts, animation, web design and visual effects. Exceptional Minds was started by parents of children with autism who opened the doors to the school in 2011, creating the only education center dedicated to preparing young adults on the autism spectrum for meaningful careers in animation and visual effects. Defying the statistical odds, and with public funding virtually nonexistent for such programs, Exceptional Minds tripled in size by its third year. By its fourth year, the nonprofit had added a working studio and had begun placing its graduates in lifelong careers. Exceptional Minds graduates have since gone on to work for employers such as Marvel Studios and on movies such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Black Panther, even as the majority of people with autism are unemployed or underemployed. Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the U.S. Now in its seventh year, Exceptional Minds has grown from its single classroom beginnings to become a thriving $3 million nonprofit that has served more than 600 individuals with autism. It continues to forge new career paths for people with autism as a pioneer in individualized instruction, career development and employer education.