The big wide world can be a scary place for neurodiverse people — but Exceptional Minds can help them find their place. Founded in 2011, this remarkable non-profit training academy trains individuals on the autism spectrum to become visual effects and animation professionals. It also runs its own studio, which has put graduates to work on Black Widow, Loki, and a whole animated segment for Sesame Street.
In this podcast, Exceptional Minds’ Executive Director David Siegel explains how his six-year-old son inspired him to join the academy. He also describes how he works with studios and software companies to give students the knowledge they need for a career. Joining him is VFX Studio Supervisor David Wolgemuth, who discusses finding common ground with students and helping them make the most of their skillsets.
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4:53 How David S was inspired by his six-year-old son
10:30 Bad Robot and Marvel: David W’s backstory
12:57 Exceptional Minds’ mission
17:13 Staggering statistics on autism
23:47 David W’s experience with the school
30:26 Funding the organization
35:01 How you can help
40:08 The benefits of working with Exceptional Minds
44:57 Working through the pandemic
49:11 What’s coming up next