It Started with My Brother, and Now We Are One Big Family
It only takes one. One person to urge you to make a change. One person to give you inspiration, an inspiration to create something that will end up helping thousands.
My brother was diagnosed when he was two. Back then, when I was a child myself, I had little to no knowledge about what autism was and how to deal with it. I grew up and went through this journey with him.
Autism is a developmental disorder. I learned that there was no “cure” for it, and early and intensive education was our best option to provide my little brother a normal life. The special education options were both lacking and expensive. Once I realised his interest in my smartphone, I decided to buy him an iPad on this birthday. That’s when everything changed, we had another means to teach my brother. I wanted to make the best of this opportunity and tried to find suitable games for him. Unfortunately, it was an unsuccessful attempt. I wanted to communicate with him so badly. The communication apps (AAC) were too expensive, games were not suitable for children with autism, or too difficult to figure out.
This never sat right with me. How could there be no specific app designed for children with autism? An app that would not cause sensory-overload and be distracting for a disorder that affects one in 59 children? I was inspired. With my background in computer science, I was able to build a basic game to teach colors to my brother. I remember my heart filling with joy and hope when he was able to distinguish colors in such a short period of time compared to his past performance.
His interest in the game as well as the success he had with it boosted my inspiration. I built Otsimo, a mobile education platform for children with disabilities, especially autism, so that every child can benefit from the game. I set out to provide a decent special education at home to my brother. This, I realised, was the missing component in his learning process. After using it to support his special education at home, now, I’m proud to say that my brother is verbal, can read and write. He is happy. He is connected.
With our applications, we have reached hundreds of thousands of families and education specialists in 188 countries across the world. This digital tool allowed people to provide their children with special needs special education and speech therapy at their own home. What keeps us going is the daily messages we receive from the parents telling us how our apps helped their children learn to speak, learn colors and everyday items. Through our platform, we also wanted to inform everyone seeking to know more about the disorder on understanding autism and what it takes to improve the quality of life for those with the disorder. We grew with the feedback we received from the families. Each game is designed to develop a certain skill, like holistic reasoning and abstract thinking. They are developed under supervision of child psychologists and experts. Every step we took since the foundation of Otsimo has been to get one step closer to democratizing autism education.
It only takes one. My brother was the one for me. And through the inspiration he gave me, I have managed to create an app that ended up helping over 200,000 families in their journeys. As a team, we strive to provide accessible and affordable, individualized special education that is essential to each and every child who needs it. I hope my story about my “one” has also inspired you to take action in this journey.