Autism Guardian Angels Summer Intern Spec Fest Recap

Autism Guardian Angels, Spec Fest, Dani Bowman

Autism Guardian Angels Intern Sam Bordy & Autism Advocate Dani Bowman at Spec Fest 2017

Hi! My name’s Samantha. As the Autism Guardian Angels (AGA) summer college intern, I work with AGA Founder David M Luber and Marketing and Board Member Liz H Kelly. This blog is my recap of the Annual Spec Fest 2017 on May 20th.

Spectrum Laboratory (Spec Labs) is an arts education program for young adults with autism in Los Angeles, California. The classes teach skills such as improv, film editing, singing, and animation. In conclusion for the year, Spec Fest showcases the students’ work.

Intern, Sam Bordy tries out a virtual reality headset in order to watch “Use Your Imagination”

Because Spec Labs Founders are Filmmaker Garth Herberg and Music Composer Jason Weissbrod, the focus is on “edutainment” programs.

In addition, the goal is to bring a sense of community to families impacted by autism. And Spec Labs creates activities to bring out the passions of people on the spectrum. While it started as an acting class, it expanded to other areas of entertainment. And now, six unique programs are part of Spec Labs.

Autistic Artists showcase New VR Film

During Spec Fest, people watched the first Virtual Reality music video made by autistic artists called “Use Your Imagination.” And this VR film is from the perspective of people with autism. It is a short film that premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

In addition to the film, Autistic Author Jake Tashjian autographed books (“Emoji Adventures”). Autistic Cartoonist Faith Butterfield did caricatures too.

Autism Advocate, Animator and Speaker Dani Bowman displayed her most recent animation projects. Dani teaches children and adults with autism how to do animation. And it is most noteworthy that the crowd loved Dani’s new animated music video “Be a Friend.” This animated film is by Dani’s Spec Labs students.

Autism Advocate, Dani Bowman poses with “Use Your Imagination” star Atticus Baldwin

I am relatively new to the autism community. My experience is based on insights from friends with children on the spectrum. As a result, I did not know what to expect at Spec Fest. And I was extremely, pleasantly surprised.

Since Spec Fest shows how much potential people on the spectrum have, it is an inspirational event. When given the right support and guidance, students produce high quality media. The animations and cartoons are professional quality. And the art is way better than I can do. Dani says anyone can learn to animate with the right teacher. And after seeing what her students produced, I know who is the right teacher.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed seeing the hard work these young adults with autism put into this year’s Spec Fest. Most noteworthy, the Spec Labs band is inspiring to hear perform. And I can’t wait to see what other amazing media the students produce in the future.