On February 3rd, Ron spoke at the Semel Institute’s Open Mind lecture at UCLA, in a rare yet extremely powerful coalescing of renowned autism researchers from the medical community and prominent creators from the entertainment industry.
Little did Ron know that some of these creators had prepared a special treat: the vocational school Exceptional Minds surprised him and the audience with a video tribute using audio clips of Ron and Owen, set to the music and theme of The Lion King with original animation drawings. The team of Exceptional Minds animators was led by program graduate Arielle Guthrie, and included students Matthew De Lorimier,Mason Earwood, Syd Fox, Michael Yochim, Ezra Fields-Meyer and Andrew Turney, who are themselves on the autism spectrum and who also hold a special affinity for animation – as so many on the spectrum do.
Exceptional Minds is the only vocational school of its kind, preparing young men and women on the autism spectrum for careers in digital animation, visual effects and other similar careers in the entertainment and film industry. Exceptional Minds graduates and students have gone on to work on major motion pictures such as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, American Hustle and Lawless.