Senior Priya Krishnan has received the $10,000 AXA Achievement Scholarship alongside 51 other students from across the country. Krishnan received this award for high academic achievement and leadership combined with her exceptional service in assisting financially disadvantaged autistic children.
Her inspiration for this work came one Christmas a couple of years ago, when she gave an iTouch to her autistic cousin, who really liked music and was soothed when he listened to it. However, she had little idea of the true impact that her gift would have.
“He started using it to learn new words, math techniques, and most of all, his verbal communication increased so much when he started using specific apps designed especially for autistic children,” Krishnan said.
Krishnan contacted experts in the assistive technology field and learned that the iTouch device were a great tool to use to help autistic children. After seeing her aunt struggle to find resources to help her cousin, Krishnan felt compelled to provide such assistive technology to numerous other autistic children, so she began her own non-profit initiative, Project Touch, designed to do just that.
With the help of her sister, Krishnan held various fundraisers to raise money. Additionally, she contacted the national organization, Autism Speaks, to find the 50 most financially disadvantaged autistic children in Virginia and was able to provide each with an iTouch and a list of free and low-cost apps specifically designed for autism.
Most recently, she’s been able to provide 65 devices to autistic children in India through the Society for Autistics in India (SAI).
“I feel honored and excited to receive this award and more than anything else more motivated to continue my efforts in college and beyond,” Krishnan said.