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UCR professor, filmmaker seek students with autism for documentary film

By in Press Enterprise on November 23, 2017

By Suzanne Hurt

A UC Riverside professor and a filmmaker are looking for a few more college students with autism for a documentary they hope will show that people with the disability are going to college and improving their relationships with faculty so they can stay in school, graduate and join the workforce.

The documentary makers have already videotaped autistic students and faculty at UCR and other Southern California campuses. About seven to eight people at UCR – possibly three of them students – took part, said Jan Blacher, director of the UC Riverside’s SEARCH Family Autism Resource Center.

However, they’re searching for five more students on the autism spectrum to be interviewed for a full-length film as part of the “Autism 101” project. Blacher is the principal investigator on the three-year project gathering data about autism in college.

“More and more people with autism will go to four-year universities. But many who are bright will not make it through college, because they get into conflict,” said Blacher, a professor in the university’s Graduate School of Education.

The film was initially envisioned as a series of YouTube videos meant to educate faculty all over the country about autism and help reduce misunderstandings with autistic students.

But Blacher and filmmaker Erik Linthorst are making a full-length documentary after gathering about $100,000 in grants, donations and other funding.

Participants must be current students or recent graduates. They can be enrolled at any local university or college, but they must be involved in a competitive program rather than taking individualized courses.

Filming should be done by the end of winter quarter in late February. For more information, call 951-827-3849 or email


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