Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
One of the options for adults with disabilities to pursue further education in the Los Angeles area is Actors for Autism's Advanced Media Vocational Academy (AMVA). They have three buildings in Glendale and one located in Hollywood. This is a one-year adult vocational training program in either TV/Film or Animation. A second year focuses on their interest level with an internship for part of the year.
A high school diploma or a certificate of completion is a requirement, plus applicants must be at least eighteen years of age. This academy is set to a year-round basis with new students entering at the first of any month.
They are vendored with the California Regional Center, except the application fee of $100 is not covered. Private pay is also an option with a cost of $1500 per month. The hours are Monday through Friday from ten to three with an hour off for lunch.
I attended the Open House with my two teen sons and toured two of the buildings that have a bridge walk way that connects them. The main building is the Hollywood Production Center where the basement has a gym. There are a few treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes, some ab benches, boxing bags and speed bags, free weights, machines, lockers and rest rooms. I demonstrated how to use the machines for my son.
The second building basement has a cafe that is open to the public. Parking is in the back of the building with areas to sit and have lunch. There is also an outdoor eating spot off the second floor. The area is a very safe environment and close to the Glendale Galleria and all the local bus stops are within walking distance.
Students have the option of working out in the gym before or after classes or even during their lunch break. The dress is casual except for the days they practice interviews. There is an interview process for the applicant, as well as skill and behavior assessment.
There are two recommendation forms that the applicant chooses someone to fill out and they send those directly to Actors for Autism's Advanced Media Vocational Academy (ADMV). If the applicant wants a copy of the recommendation they need to request that from their reference as this is the only document that they keep confidential.
Funding is for one year and then the second year can be funded as well. Although there is one vendor number for the Regional Center, there are two separate programs. Each program has six courses that take two months to complete. Each one is either a pass or fail. There are non final exams.
Art of Producing
Art of Directing
Sound & Design
Camera & Lighting
Fundamentals of Animation
Character Animation 2D
Character Animation 3D
Storyboarding for Animation
Portfolio & Career Development
Each month the students go on field trips. They have been to Disney, Sony and NBC. The students write blogs on a weekly basis and there is networking each month at the site. Parents meet with AMVA on a quarterly basis.
The application process includes a math, reading and writing skills test. Not all students that apply are accepted so it is advised to wait to be accepted and then secure funding from the Regional Center. An applicant can reapply and take the tests if they did not make it.
The letters of recommendation cannot be from a relative and someone who has known the applicant at least six months. One of these needs to be from a teacher. The current or last IEP or Transition Plan needs to be submitted along with a personal statement.
Actors for Autism's Advanced Media Vocational Academy (AMVA) has recently moved to the Glendale location from Burbank. They are finishing up their first year as being vendored with the Regional Center.
Since my son has shown such great talent in drawing over the years I have encouraged him to pursue something in this field as a back up option. His number one field is to work with animals out in the wild at a Sanctuary or at a Zoo. Due to taking online school courses throughout Middle School and now High School I think applying to this academy would help prepare him for college and give him those social and life skills he needs.
We spoke to a few parents and current students that all enjoy the program and have many positive experiences as a result of attending. This could spark that interest in other fields giving adults with autism more than one option in the workforce. The atmosphere seemed very calm and less stressful than going directly to college after high school. The hours even allow for a part time job opportunity at the mall and a volunteer gig at the zoo on weekends. The added bonus of the gym would be working out in a secure location with no added costs.