CARD's Partnership with Otis College of Art and Design Gets Stronger

By Michele Jaquis, CARD Videographer/Editor

For the third semester in a row, CARD is partnering with the Integrated Learning Program at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles to offer the course "Creative Solutions to the Autism Epidemic." The partnership began a few years ago when Otis faculty were asked to propose courses for the new IL Program. Michele Jaquis, who's been teaching at Otis since fall 2000 and working at CARD since 2001, first as an ABA therapist and more recently as a videographer/editor, knew right away what organization she wanted to work with. She spent the spring and summer of 2007 developing the course in collaboration with CARD's Torrance Office, located about 11 miles from the Otis main campus. The first course was offered in Fall 2007.

Each semester since, Jaquis, along with Virginia Hein, Otis Toy Design faculty member, have been guiding students to create projects that transform, enhance and/or give voice to the experiences of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, their families, CARD staff and the public awareness of Autism. Work from the fall semester course can be seen here. Notable past projects include prototypes for a support package for families, a GFCF cookbook, a social-stories book about the importance of brushing one's teeth, a roller-cart called the "Carganizer" for organizing therapy supplies, and an art workshop for children with Autism.

"It is a chance for me to connect the two worlds I am involved in, as well as to give my students an opportunity to create socially responsible art and design projects in real world situations," says Jaquis. In addition to CARD, The IL Program at Otis partners with several organizations and companies, including Homeboy Industries, the City of El Segundo, Platinum Studios, the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Baldwin Hills Conservancy, and the Custom Hotel, to name a few. Students learn about each site partner's mission and work in interdisciplinary teams to define solutions that respond to the issues of each individual partner. In some cases site partners have commissioned Otis students to implement the projects they proposed, giving students a chance to see their work in a public setting and further engage with audiences outside of Otis.

CARD staff and clients are encouraged to join the Otis / CARD Virtual Classroom in order to add content and provide feedback that can directly influence the projects as the semester progresses. Final projects will be presented at CARD Headquarters in the beginning of May.

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