A project to provide technology and software to support autistic children and their families.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects communication, social, and play skills behavior and sensory-processing ability. As a result, autism impacts the way people experience the environment around them. It appears within the first three years of life and those affected have persistent difficulties with communication and social interactions.
The Sethu Centre for Child Development and Family Guidance, based in Goa, India, has worked with children with developmental and behavioral concerns for over twelve years. Sethu endeavors to find practical solutions to improve the developmental progress of these children and to support their families and has already helped more than 7,000 children with autism, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and communication challenges.
Hope Swirls is a project created by two teen aged siblings Andrew and Michelle Nazareth to raise funds which will enable the professionals at Sethu to use technology to address the five main deficits faced by children with autism. Funds raised in the first year will be used to increase technology use at Sethu. Additional and future funds will be used to support twenty families whose children need this technology but cannot afford it. The technology improvements include Alternative and Augmentative Communication devices to improve communication skills, software applications and cause and effect toys to improve play, social interactions and behavior, and occupational therapy technology to reduce sensory processing challenges.
Autistic children are managed by a multidisciplinary team at Sethu consisting of a speech therapist, autism interventionist, occupational therapist, and, if required, a special educator. During the first year, the team at Sethu will use various technologies, purchased with funds raised through this project, to train autistic children during their therapy sessions. In the second and third years, ten different families per year who visit Sethu regularly and cannot afford it, will be allowed to purchase the technology they need to train their children at home at a subsidized rate. This will enable families to support their children at home, which is crucial to any intervention and which will strengthen and generalize their children’s learning. The children’s progress will be monitored regularly.
These technologies will enable the professionals at Sethu to improve the quality of intervention and training provided to autistic children and families and to analyze and record the many aspects of the use of a technology in a community-based child development and family guidance center in Goa, such as its acceptance by children and families, the developmental progress of the children, local adaptations where necessary, and constraints and possible solutions.
This is an innovative project, as the use of technology to treat children with autism is uncommon in India, mainly due to a lack of funding and awareness. Through this project, we hope to convince other professionals and families of the benefits of using technology that is available and accessible, thereby increasing its outreach and subsequent benefits to more autistic children.
As award winning teen artists, Andrew and Michelle have recently published a book of their paintings - ‘ Bridge to Paradise Art and Poetry’. Both hard and soft copies of the book are available on Amazon. Andrew and Michelle have chosen to donate the net proceeds from sales of the book to the Hope Swirls Project.
Soft Copy: $17.95
Hard Copy: $26.95