Exceptional Minds Aims To Change Lives Through Animation, 'One Frame At A Time'By Lisa Sigell

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Lots of programs help kids with autism and special needs.

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But the group Exceptional Minds thinks long beyond childhood, working to inspire kids with autism to create and explore an artistic side not only for a skill, but possibly for a career.

CBS2 and KCAL9 Health reporter Lisa Sigell met many of the exceptional minds.

“There’s something a bit unnerving playing a video game with its inventor sitting right next to you,” she said. “Yes, I needed some help to keep up with these young people. Some may even say you need a bit of brilliance.”

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Exceptional Minds is a non-profit school and animation studio designed for young adults on the autism spectrum. The studio is run by entertainment industry professionals, and its teachers say their hearts are firmly planted in the program.

Eli Katz is one program participant seeing his dreams come true while he works on his own animated game. “Every day I learn something new,” he said.

A large percentage of adults with autism are unemployed or in jobs way below their skill level. Exceptional Minds is working to change that situation by helping students hone skills in animation, graphics and more.

Inspired by everyone from Walt Disney to Tim Burton, some graduates have gone on to work for major studios. Each such success story fulfills the group’s aim of “changing lives one frame at a time.”

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See exceptionalmindsstudio.org for more about the school and their activities.