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December 2013



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Tones - Art and Music Interviews



Tuesday, November 26th 2013


Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Film Roman, DreamWorks, Titmouse, and others lend their expertise as part of Exceptional Minds’ three-year digital arts program taught by movie industry professionals and adapted for the special needs of individuals with autism.

Exceptional Minds digital arts vocational school for young adults with autism has been making the Hollywood rounds these past few weeks in order to help prepare its first graduating class for careers in the highly competitive fields of digital animation and post-production.


Executives from Sony Pictures Imageworks and Warner Bros. Animation recently visited the school as guest lecturers, as did key animators as well as a recruiter from Film Roman animation studio. Exceptional Minds students – all on the spectrum and preparing for careers in the digital arts — also met with staff and crew at DreamWorks Animation, Film Roman, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Titmouse Animation, and Big Screen Network Production in the past two months. In addition to lecture speakers and studio tours, four Exceptional Minds graduating students and an instructor recently worked on visual effects for upcoming blockbuster movie American Hustle, earning them screen credit for their contribution to the film.


This recent activity is all part of Exceptional Minds’ three-year digital arts program taught by movie industry professionals and adapted for the special needs of individuals with autism. “We have reached the point in our program where our students have met most of their program certification requirements and are now continuing their education outside the classroom. When we called on the industry to give of their time, we were overwhelmed by the response and the genuine interest in our students,” said Susan Zwerman, one of the co-founders of Exceptional Minds who is also an established visual effects producer and recipient of the 2013 Frank Capra Achievement award.


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Posted on: 11:17 am, November 29, 2013, by


(Santa Monica, CBS) The most surprising thing about Max Parker’s morning routine is that he has a job to go to — at all.


He didn’t know a whole lot about it when he got into it.


“It was pretty much all new stuff,” he says.


But now, he seems to be excelling at it.


Parker is a software analyst. He’s also autistic.


Parker says that when he was growing up, he never envisioned having a job like this.


Roughly 75 percent of autistic adults are unemployed, in part because the brain disorder makes it difficult to interact with others.


But many on the autism spectrum also have an uncanny ability to focus intensely on minute details — perfect for the tedious work of hunting for glitches in computer software.


“This is not a charity,” says Chad Hahn, the CEO of MindSpark. “And our employees are good at what they do.”


Hahn, a software designer, used to outsource work to India, but his wife, a social worker, convinced him “high-functioning” autistic adults, like Parker, are well suited for the job.


“If you and I look at a set of instructions over and over again, I don’t know about you, but I would miss some things,” Hahn says. “Max doesn’t miss things. He’s really good at it.”


“Finding jobs for people with autism that focus on technical skills, on concentration, on detail, is exactly the right thing to do,” says Dr. Marcel Just, who studies autism at Carnegie Mellon University.


Just says his research has found autistic brains are wired differently. Most people rely on the front of the brain to process the “big picture” around us. But with autism, it’s the opposite: thinking is dominated by parts of the brain that handle details.


“People with autism can zoom in on detail, with technical knowledge, with expertise, and zoom in, not be bothered by the larger picture and maybe find details that are wrong,” Just says.


Read in Full:


Missing Teen With Autism Home for Thanksgiving

NBC New York

Friday, Nov 29, 2013  |  Updated 11:18 AM EST


A New Jersey teenager with autism who went missing for a week before being found in Ohio is now back home.


Michael Karwan, 19, of Marlboro and his parents arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport on Wednesday night, one day after he was located at a men’s shelter in Cleveland.


Monmouth County authorities say Karwan left his parent’s home Nov. 11 and traveled by bus to Manhattan. He then went to upstate New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh before arriving in Cleveland on Saturday.


Karwan tried to check-in to an overcrowded men’s shelter that day, but a staffer there referred him to another nearby shelter which took him in. But the staffer at the first shelter soon recognized Karwan from a Facebook newsfeed item and called Marlboro police, who contacted Cleveland police.


Officers who went to the shelter were able to confirm Karwan’s identity, and he was soon reunited with his parents.


“It might be only seven days (he was missing), but for us it was an eternity,” Karwan’s father, Walter, told reporters during a news conference at the airport.


Read in Full:






Your mother-in-law takes over the kitchen at holiday time. So what? Your father-in-law drinks too much and sulks in the corner. Big deal!


Don’t let in-laws ruin your family holiday, multiply your stress, and leave you feeling defeated or angry. There are some simple strategies you can use to get along with difficult in-laws this holiday season.


Doing so will make your holiday get-together more pleasant. But there’s an even better reason to make peace with in-laws.



In my long-term study of married couples, when a husband or wife fails to get along with the in-laws, it’s predictive of marital unhappiness down the road. On the flip side, in the happiest marriages from my study, both spouses reported that they felt close to, or at least got along with, their in-laws.


Here are some ways to avoid adding in-law stress to your holiday season — and potentially harming your marriage.


1. Expect the minimum.


Don’t expect praise, warmth, and approval from your partner’s family. Transform into a gracious host and treat them as honored guests. They will either respond or not, but you won’t care.


2. Let them help.


Ask your father-in-law to build a fire. Ask your mother-in-law to make or bring her favorite dish. People like to be needed, and it gives them a way to contribute.


3. Be a reporter.


One of the best ways to keep conversations light is to ask questions and get your in-laws talking — about their work, childhood, hobbies, etc. People love talking about themselves.


4. Blend traditions.


Ahead of time, ask your partner to describe family rituals — such as special prayers, toasts, foods, or after-dinner games or activities — and surprise your in-laws with one of their favorite holiday rituals.


Read in Full:







When we suffer from depression, including bipolar disorder and postpartum depression, we may feel responsible for the depressive feelings. Like somehow it’s our fault.


We may also feel alone in battling the illness and lack support or inspiration from others.


Sometimes this may cause us to give up hope and feel like there’s no end to how low we’re feeling; after all, if there’s nothing we can do and nobody we can turn to for help, there’s no point in trying to get better.


Celebrities Can’t Get Depressed, Can They?


After all, only ordinary people like you can suffer from depression. High-flying celebrities are immune, right?




In recent years, numerous prominent figures from politics, sports and entertainment have ‘spoken out’ about their own battles with depression, bipolar and the stigma surrounding mental illness.


In fact, the pressures and expectations of public life often make dealing with mental illness harder. Denial and the need to fulfill high-profile duties can be compounded by the fear of stigma and intense scrutiny. There may be consequences that come with admitting that something’s not right and seeking help.


We can draw plenty of reassurance and inspiration from these candid accounts of grappling with the black dog in spite of – or sometimes due to – a very public life in the limelight.


We can also learn plenty of lessons from how others have fared in coping and living with depression, bipolar or postpartum depression and apply them to our own situation.


Here’s what three prominent figures from the worlds of sports and politics — interviewed in my book Back From The Brink –can teach you about coping with depression.


Read in Full:


alcohol and insomnia keep you awake


By Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on November 30, 20


Among men who suffer from certain types of insomnia — difficulty falling asleep and non-restorative sleep in particular — there is a slight increase in risk of death from heart-related problems, according to a new study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.


People with insomnia have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both, with the result that they do not get enough sleep and may not feel refreshed upon waking up. Research has shown that sleep is vital for heart health, and many studies have linked poor sleep with increased risk factors for cardiovascular-related diseases.


“Insomnia is a common health issue, particularly in older adults, but the link between this common sleep disorder and its impact on the risk of death has been unclear,” said lead author of the new study Dr. Yanping Li, a research fellow in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).


For the study, published in the journal Circulation, researchers analyzed data on self-reported insomnia symptoms of nearly 23,500 men taking part in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.


Using information from the government and the men’s families, they found that 2,025 of the participants died sometime over the six-year follow-up period.


After adjusting for lifestyle, age, and other chronic conditions, the researchers found that men who reported having difficulty falling asleep and non-restorative sleep had a 55% and 32% increased risk of death due to heart-related causes, respectively, compared with men who did not report experiencing these sleep problems.


Read in Full:


Chronic insomnia? ask your doctor