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Exceptional Minds: One of Family Services Community Grant Winners!

This guest post is from Serena Selkin, Assistant Director of Grants from Autism Speaks. 

Exceptional Minds in Sherman Oaks, CA is currently implementing a program funded by Autism Speaks entitled “Digital Arts Vocational Training and Job Development Program for Young Adults with ASD and Replication Manual.” Yudi Bennett, Director of Operations, sent us this interim update:

“We are very grateful to Autism Speaks, Inc. for the $25,000 Family Services Community Grant awarded to Exceptional Minds in January. This money has allowed Exceptional Minds (EM) to begin documentation of its program for purposes of replication and to launch the Job Development portion of our program. The goal of replication is essential given the dismal employment statistics for young adults with autism. Documentation of our program will provide assistance to other service providers around the United States to develop nonprofit vocational programs intended to result in employment of young adults with autism in their geographic area.

The EM Program Manual relates directly to other start-up programs in technology and digital entertainment media. However, it is also intended to assist in the development of other types of vocational programs that provide training in areas of strength and interest for the population of young adults with autism in their geographic area. In either case, this manual should provide a blue print of our program development process, as well as lessons learned.

Because Exceptional Minds is a one-of-a-kind vocational program, our development process was an innovative and pioneering one which started with a dream, a vision, a great idea and the commitment of a few family members to a future that included employment and collegiality for their children, young adults with autism. It is our profound hope that this manual will make it easier and more efficient for many additional programs for young adults with autism to develop around the country that have new and different dreams, visions, and great ideas that can be turned into real, paying careers that make use of the talents and interests of young people with autism.”

For more information on Exceptional Minds, please visit their Facebook page at

For more information on our grants programs, visit /family-services/grants

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.