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This Week's Super NOVA Uses Technology to Better the Lives of Autistic Individuals | Super NoVA

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This Week's Super NOVA Uses Technology to Better the Lives of Autistic Individuals
Super NoVA
This Week's Super NOVA Uses Technology to Better the Lives of Autistic Individuals

A Super NOVA is a person with a unique talent or business that makes them stand out in the Northern Virginia crowd. Priya Krishnan of McLean was selected as this week's Super NOVA for her efforts to use technology to better the lives of autistic individuals. At age 17, Priya started her own non-profit organization, called Project Touch, to assist financially needy autistic children through a creative idea. 

Priya is a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria. Every senior at Jefferson has to do a senior research project, and Priya hopes to do her project on socially assistive robotics. After cheer practice and school, Priya has a different agenda than most high school teenagers. She goes home to work on her non-profit organization, Project Touch.

One in 110 people are diagnosed with Autism. Priya’s idea stemmed from when she gave her 8 year-old autistic cousin an iTouch for Christmas. At the time, she thought he would enjoy the present, but had no idea what a big impact such a small device could have on his life. He began using it for all kinds of things.  The iTouch helped him in his daily routine, allowing him to follow his class schedule, and learn vocabulary, math and communication. 

Soon thereafter, Priya partnered with Autism Speaks to help launch her organization. Her first goal was to give 50 financially needy families an iTouch to help them cope with Autism. Priya solicited write-ups from families explaining their story, and she received close to 150 application essays.  Next, she spent about three weeks reading through the applications to narrow the list down to 50 winners.  

She decided to give the devices away based on 1) financial situation 2) family situation and 3) severity of autism.

“She was up until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning for a few weeks. We didn’t realize how labor intensive it would be,” said Meena Krishnan, her mother.

This past Sunday, Project Touch held the awards ceremony in Richmond, VA. Priya was able to finally give away the devices to the 50 different families.

“I wish I could have given one to everyone that applied,” said Priya. The families that did not get a device received a 14% Apple discount. After the event, Priya received many requests on the Autism Speaks Facebook Fan Page from families in Montana and California to do similar programs in their areas. She hopes to expand nationally once she figures out the best way to get large corporate donors.

Look out for more Super NOVAs every Wednesday afternoon going forward.

Email escott@wusa9.com if you want to nominate yourself, or someone you know that deserves to be recognized as a Super NOVA! 

Super NoVA