Raising Awareness through “The Gift of Autism”

The Gift of Autism

Diego Raf Diaz has a dream. He wants to use his talent as an animator to tell the real stories of autistic people. He’s calling it, “The Gift of Autism.” Diego was diagnosed with autism at an early age. He says that watching videos had a huge impact on him, especially Pinocchio and the Land Before Time. The characters were his friends. It was his love for these shows and his talent for drawing that turned his attention towards creating animations. Now he wants to use his creativity and passion to make a difference in the world for those with autism. I met him at the Autism Conference in New Orleans and talked to him about “The Gift of Autism” animated video. He’s working hard to make his dream a reality.

Where did you learn how to create animation?

I started learning about animation at the Squeaky Wheel Training Studio in Buffalo in 2009. There I learned how to make short animation projects with Adobe Flash. However, I got my true training from Villa Maria College. There, I graduated with a BFA in animation.

What kinds of animated videos do you make?

For now, it is just short stories and commercials. However, in the future I plan to create many animated television series and movies.

How does creating animations make you feel?

I suppose it makes me feel like I am creating life. After all, the very definition of animation is to “bring objects to life.” As for emotions, I often feel much pride.

What is “The Gift of Autism” project?

Its purpose is to raise autism awareness. It stars a young boy who goes around the world and talks to many people who have autism. By doing so, the boy learns that autism is actually a gift that can help people grow as friends and family.

The project sounds very exciting! What is happening with it now?

Right now, I am waiting for three mothers to send me some footage of their children talking about their lives. I would like to use their footage to make a mini-trailer for this project. That way, I can get started on a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo.com.

Why is this project so important to you?

First of all, this is my first professional animation project. This could help me find a good animation job in a professional animation studio. Besides, I know what it is like to have autism. It does my heart good to know that this project is helping with a good cause.

Why is it important for the autism community?

Not only will this project raise autism awareness, but it will also show the world what autism really is. Autism is not a disease. Rather, it is a gift that can help people grow as friends and family.

What can people do to help you make “The Gift of Autism” happen?

Once I finish the mini-trailer, I can get started on making the fundraiser campaign on Indiegogo.com. People can donate funds to this campaign once it is ready.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Gift of AutismI have a message to those who are parents of autistic children. They should take their children’s condition as a sign. A sign that their child has some great talent. One day, their child will put that talent to good use, and do something very famous. This is exactly why I see autism not as a disease, but instead as a gift.

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About Jodi Murphy

I am the founder of Geek Club Books, autism storytelling through mobile apps for awareness, acceptance and understanding. My mission is to use the art of storytelling and technology to entertain and educate for the social good. I am a 'positive' autism advocate, mother of an awesome adult on the autism spectrum, lifestyle journalist, and marketing specialist.

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