How One Organization Is Helping People with Autism Launch Careers in Animation & Digital Arts

The Los Angeles based non-profit, Exceptional Minds, is an academy and studio that is working to change the unemployment rate for people with autism

A Los Angeles nonprofit is helping people with autism launch careers in animation and digital art — and their efforts are now reaching farther as they partner with HBO Max for a new television series.

HBO Max initially consulted Exceptional Minds while they were developing their new series, On the Spectrum, which follows a group of roommates with autism as they lead independent lives.

Because the show was originally filmed in Hebrew, HBO Max had to dub the show in English — so the network turned to Exceptional Minds, hoping that some of the young adults they've helped through the years would be interested in the voice acting gig.

Previous graduates Shane McKaskle (class of 2015), Adam Schuering (class of 2016) and Jacob Lenard (class of 2018), along with current student Kate McSpadden, were ultimately chosen for the role and got to voice the show's main characters.

"The original actors in Israel, none of them are on the spectrum. So, they had to rely on the research they were doing and the people that they were speaking with," Schuering tells PEOPLE (the TV Show!) in Tuesday's episode. "But in the case of me and Kate, I believe as well, we've essentially lived with this our entire lives."

Adam Shuering and Kate McSpadden
Adam Shuering and Kate McSpadden. Adam Shuering and Kate McSpadden

Added McSpadden: "For autistic people, it's very hard for them to get jobs and get recognized and especially for acting roles because as sad as it is, most people are just not patient or cooperative with autistic people."

Exceptional Minds' Executive Director, David Siegel, tells PEOPLE his organization is working to lower the unemployment rate for people with autism and hopes other companies will follow HBO Max's lead.

"One in 54 people are born with autism," Siegel explains. "As young people approach the age of 18, they start to age out of all of the services that are generally provided for, with regard to people on the autism spectrum."

"There's endless incredible stories about how our students have found their way to our organization and ultimately they're achieving greatness... in ways that they could only dream about before," he adds.

For more about Exceptional Minds and HBO Max's new series, On the Spectrum, check out the video above.

Catch People (the TV show!) Monday through Friday. Check your local listings for exact times or stream the show every day at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT at and

Related Articles