Exceptional Minds gets Apple support for neurodivergent creativity

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Exceptional Minds gets Apple support for neurodivergent creativity

Exceptional Minds, a non-profit which helps neurodivergent creatives turn their passions into their careers, is receiving support from Apple’s community grants program.

Funding is provided through the Employee Giving scheme, where Apple matches every dollar donated by employees, and provides an additional sum for every hour of voluntary service by Apple staff …

Exceptional Minds was founded in Los Angeles, back in 2011, to help those on the autism spectrum, who can face greater challenges with their studies and careers.

Using products and technology provided in part by Apple’s community grants program, the school trains neurodivergent artists for employability in entertainment through a blend of technical training, hands-on experience, and career-path planning […]

“Exceptional Minds is so unique in the way it works with students on the autism spectrum,” says Tim Dailey, the school’s academic dean and director of academic programs. “We want to create a world where a student on the spectrum is recognized for their talents and not the challenges they face.”

In just a few short years, alumni have gone on to land jobs at industry powerhouses like Marvel, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network, and these successes are a testament to the school’s approach. At Exceptional Minds, students have the freedom and flexibility they need to go at their own pace, while still being accountable to the rigors of a three-year program — a methodology that sets it apart from the more traditional schools students might have attended growing up. Feedback is plentiful, designed to help artists set reasonable expectations for themselves and their work.

Animator Jess Jerome says that it’s just as challenging and satisfying for tutors, who have to learn to adapt their teaching methods to the unique learning styles of each student.

Students work with the Adobe Creative Suite on Mac, including Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere, and Animate. Apple-specific features like Background Sounds and Guided Access can play an important role in improving focus.

The program also includes job-hunting skills, like writing resumes and answering interview questions, and introduces them to potential employers.

Through mentorship and internship programs, students begin to develop relationships with employers, and those employers begin to learn about their needs or working styles […]

That means that by the time they leave Exceptional Minds, goals like pitching comic books to DC or working as a motion designer for a major studio aren’t just dreams — they’re well within reach.

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