Radhika autism

Radhika Shah, a 16-year-old Indian American student from Nevada, is the founder of RAD, or making a Real Autism Difference, a charity whose mission is to make a positive impact on the lives of children with autism and their families. (radlv.org photo)

‘RAD,’ or making a Real Autism Difference, the non-profit founded by 16-year-old Indian American student Radhika Shah in Las Vegas, Nevada, will be opening a new chapter in California Aug. 25.

RAD envisions a community where every child with autism has access to education, care, activities and medical resources necessary to lead a happy and fulfilled life.

Shah was only 15 when she had the idea for RAD. Her little brother, 18 months her junior, is affected by severe Autism Spectrum Disorder. She recognized the challenges her family faced in finding child care, treatments and opportunities for social interaction for her brother, and she decided to do something about it. On April 28, 2018, instead of a traditional sweet 16 birthday party, Shah held a launch party for her new charity organization.

“The extreme lack of available resources in southern Nevada for children with autism was a contributing factor in my brother’s inability to fully gain some functioning. Seeing my family struggle through this process over the years led me to questioning what I could do to help my brother and other children like him,” Shah said in a press release.

The young philanthropist spent the past year doing research, meeting with other organizations that are focused on autism and children with special needs, and getting a grasp on what is most needed.

With the right services, treatments and care options, Shah said she believes that these children can lead happy, fulfilled lives, and wants RAD to make the necessary changes to make that vision come true.

Since its launch, RAD has implemented several new programs in southern Nevada, including workshops to assist homeless families affected by autism, sensory gym open play, and training workshops for families affected by autism. Shah’s vision is to expand these services.

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