by Liz Onufer | photos by Lauren Nygard Photography

asking the…
HARD QUESTIONS

faces_melissaMelissa Collins-Porter and Craig Young are asking a question that quietly impacts every community: What happens to children with autism when they become adults? “The motivation behind the project is to find out how a society assists those of its members who need help with the kind of skills most of us take for granted,” La Costa resident Melissa Collins-Parker stated. Melissa teaches film studies and is a mother of two, including her 14-year-old son Liam who is autistic, and she is collaborating with Del Mar resident and film director Craig Young to explore the issues of “aging out.”

In creating the documentary Aging Out, “We hope to show the personal struggles the families wrestle with in finding a place for their autistic loved one in the world,” Craig explained. “For many people these choices are bleak – a group home or living at home with their parents. But then what happens when their parents die? No one deserves to be parked in front of a TV all day.” Currently the film is in pre-production, which includes fundraising, observing programs, and meeting with experts and autism families.


Name: Craig Young
Community: Del Mar
Profession: Filmmaker, Director
Family: Wife and daughter
Hobbies: Trail running, golf, live music, travel


After working together in the late 90s at a multimedia company, Melissa contacted Craig to partner with her on this project. For Craig, the answer was clear; “I was immediately taken in by Melissa’s passion for the project and her extensive knowledge about the issue. And the more I learned about it, the more I realized it is a story that needs to be told. Because in telling it we have the potential to help a lot of people live a better life.”


Name: Melissa Collins-Porter
Community: La Costa
Profession: Filmmaker, Teaching Film Studies at MiraCosta College
Family: Husband; Daughter (12); and Son (14)
Hobbies: Pilates, running, hiking, reading


“And the more I learned about it, the more I realized it is a story that needs to be told. Because in telling it we have the potential to help a lot of people live a better life.”

faces_craigTheir initial Kickstarter fundraising campaign raised $10,000, including support from the Cynthia Norrell Foundation and the autism community, and will fund the shooting of the film’s trailer. An additional $250,000 is needed to complete the film. “We honestly believe that by bringing exposure to this issue we can help improve the lives of adults with autism,” Craig shared.

Improving the lives of adults with autism is not an isolated issue. Melissa related the challenges in the scope of the community impact; “There are so many kids like Liam who are going to reach adulthood at the same time and we as a society have no plan for how to help them all live productive lives. It’s a topic that affects not only autism families but everyone in the community.” For more information on the project visit www.agingoutmovie.com.