WAMU 88.5 : News

Local Teen Helps Families Of Autistic Children In Va.

Play associated audio
Priya Krishnan, a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax, is behind Project Touch and the effort to get iPod's to needy autistic children.
Jonathan Wilson
Priya Krishnan, a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax, is behind Project Touch and the effort to get iPod's to needy autistic children.

High school junior Priya Krishnan gave her autistic cousin Abinav the gift of a touchscreen mp3 player -- an iPod touch -- simply because she thought he would enjoy playing music and games on it.

But pretty quickly it became clear that Abinav, who was in fifth grade at the time, could use the device to better connect with the world around him.

Krishnan says that there is one program, for example, that displays cartoon faces, which express different feelings.

"This one's for happy," she says as a pink cartoon smiley-face pops up on the screen, and the device emits the sound of laughter.

"After seeing the impact it had on his life, I got the idea to use technology to have an impact on people's live," she says.

But Krishnan also knew many families of autistic children couldn't afford a state of the art smartphone or mp3 player.

So she started her own non-profit, Project Touch, and reached out to the regional chapter of Autism Speaks. Ann Gibbons is the chapter's executive director.

"Human beings are noisy, and unpredictable, and they react in myriad ways, and sometimes you don't know how to get them to do what you want when you have autism," Gibbons says.

She says computers have long been used to bridge the communication gap in the autism world, but it's never been this easy or this portable.

Through an essay contest, Project Touch and Autism Speaks will be giving the devices to 50 needy families of autistic children later this spring.

The next step? Getting technology companies to give them the devices for free, and taking the contest national.

NPR

For Carl Phillips, Poetry Is Experience Transformed — Not Transcribed

Phillips' new collection is both raw and refined, drawing on intimate experience while shunning autobiography. "I become uncomfortable when people make an equation between author and poem," he says.
NPR

#NPRreads: Middle East Air Quality, Lead Poisoning, And Jell-O

Around the newsroom and around the world, here's what we're reading this week.
NPR

Donald Trump In 9 Quotes And 200 Seconds

Trump took his act on the road to Tennessee, where he thrilled a conservative audience with an off-the-cuff routine that bordered on stand-up comedy.
NPR

No More Standing By The Spigot: Messaging App Alerts Water Availability

A startup in India — where an aging, ad hoc system limits water availability — is using text messages to let people know when their faucets should work, so they don't waste hours awaiting the deluge.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.