Interacting With Autism, a video-based website, will be unveiled on Sept. 28 at the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA).
Laura Cechanowicz, a PhD student at SCA, is looking forward to the launch of the site, which she has worked on for two years. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the school’s Interactive Media building.
Cechanowicz joined the team as project manager while she was studying neuroscience, in addition to animation, to advance her exploration of the connection between the body and the mind.
In one project for the site, she directed Exceptional Minds in Transition, a film focusing on Exceptional Minds, a nonprofit vocational school that teaches people about autism and animation. Cechanowicz also supplied watercolors and ink for the backgrounds in the video Sensory Overload, which explores what it might be like to live with autism, and she created the animation for a short film titled Treatment Overview.
Interacting With Autism was originated three years ago by University Professor Marsha Kinder and Distinguished Professor Mark Harris. The website features documentary-style videos in a format that invites visitors to interact with the topics at hand. Kinder conceived and directs The Labyrinth Project, an interactive digital initiative, and Harris is an Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker.
By combining their areas of expertise, the co-principal investigators created an innovative online resource that offers extensive information via videos. The site currently features more than 30 videos grouped into three sections: understanding autism, treating autism and living with autism.
“Our aim was to create a video-intensive resource for families and people on the [autism] spectrum, a database they could reference when they have questions about the experience of autism and their options for treatment,” Cechanowicz said. “We wanted to help them understand what their options are as they move forward toward independence. We also hoped to share the experience of autism with a wider audience.”
The launch will feature three panel discussions on the causes of autism, choice of treatments and the creation of the website.
“The information we present is based on the most current scientific research, and we hope that this material helps to empower people touched by autism by provide the best knowledge about steps they can take,” Cechanowicz said.
The launch is co-sponsored by SCA, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, the USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, and the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study. The Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Autism Treatment Network site also sponsored the event.