Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 22, 2023                                                                                    
Contact: atucci@hospicefoundation.org; info@austismandgrief.org
Grief is a Spectrum Too Wins Marvels of Media Documentary Short Award

Washington – Grief is a Spectrum Too, an animated video by and for adults with autism, is the winner of documentary short category by the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), which will honor autistic media-makers with at its annual Marvels of Media Awards ceremony and exhibit beginning on March 30, Hospice Foundation of America (HFA) announced.

Part of the new website autismandgrief.org, Grief is a Spectrum Too features adults on the spectrum describing their reactions to a variety of profound loss experiences. The website, launched in September 2022, was developed by HFA, with funding from the autism-focused NLM Family Foundation. To produce the video, HFA turned to Exceptional Minds, a nonprofit academy and studio preparing artists on the autism spectrum for careers in the digital arts. Working together, Exceptional Minds and HFA combined their expertise to develop Grief is a Spectrum Too, which is narrated by the renowned animator, writer, and producer Jorge Gutierrez. Music for the animation was provided by Spectrum Laboratory, which empowers and educates student artists and musicians.

“Exceptional Minds is honored to be a part of this significant contribution to the autism community. The stories in this animated short of hope and healing are told by adults with autism. And our artists on the autism spectrum brought these stories to life beautifully in order to help others with autism and those around them understand and respect their grief,” said David Siegel, CEO of Exceptional Minds.

The team of award-winning artists from Exceptional Minds includes Adam Schuering, Andrew Turney, Craig Hills, Dean Julien, Dylan Carbonell, Jacob Lenard, Liam Brosnan, Sam Hardin, Sarah Barnes, Shad Wilde, Stephen Storti, Veronica Dolcich, and Zachary Warren.

"It was an honor to be a part of the animation team for this project. Describing people's emotions by animating how they dealt with grief is a beneficial way to illustrate their situation to others. Thank you for allowing me to help show that,” said artist Craig Hills of his work.

Grief as experienced by individuals on the autism spectrum is often misinterpreted by those around them because their outward expressions of grief may differ from common grief reactions of non-autistic people. As a result, their grief may be ignored or misunderstood. Autismandgrief.org provides information about how autistic adults may grieve and provides tools for them, their families and friends, and professionals to better understand and support their loss.

"The NLM Family Foundation is gratified to learn that the outstanding quality of Grief is a Spectrum Too has been recognized with this award," said Beth Zwick, Program Officer at the Foundation. "We recognize the vision of HFA in retaining Exceptional Minds to animate autistic experiences of grief for the website autismandgrief.org. Most of all, we congratulate all the autistic animators at Exceptional Minds who created this powerful video to inform and inspire the autistic community regarding the universal experiences of grief and loss."

Hospice Foundation of America’s President and CEO Amy Tucci praised the animators who turned their own grief into purpose by helping others on the spectrum understand that they are not alone in their grief.

“This resource will validate the grief experiences of people on the spectrum, who far too often are  faulted for not grieving or of not grieving the ‘right’ way,” Tucci said.

MoMI’s Marvels of Media Awards was developed by the museum’s education department in partnership with Josh Sapan, a longtime member of MoMI’s Board of Trustees and former CEO of AMC Networks. Through the Marvels of Media Awards, MoMI supports the creative endeavors of media-makers on the spectrum, of all ages and backgrounds.