Radhika Shah first came up with the idea for her nonprofit Real Autism Difference when she was just 15. After watching the challenges her autistic brother faced growing up, Shah knew that she wanted to create an organization to support other kids like him.

“The extreme lack of available resources in Southern Nevada for children with autism was a contributing factor in my brother’s inability to fully recoup his functioning,” after a severe childhood illness, she wrote on the Real Autism Difference (RAD) website. “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.”

As her 16th birthday approached in April of this year, Shah decided that she would rather have a launch party and fundraiser for her organization than a typical sweet sixteen bash.

Programs supported by RAD include support workshops for homeless families affected by autism, training sessions for parents and opportunities for children to engage in ‘sensory gym open play,’ which allows autistic children to play at gyms suited to their needs.

According to RAD’s website, the nonprofit also plans to expand as they move forward. “we are overflowing with ideas and goals to be reached,” Shah wrote on the site. One of the group’s main objectives is to eventually build a facility. “We envision a facility that brings more specialists and doctors to our area, with space for their practice to diagnose, treat and offer therapies to your ASD child,” the site explained.

Organizers went on to explain that the future space would also be used for classes, programs and therapeutic support for autistic children and their families.

Related coverage: A Health Scare as a Teen led Surbhi Sarna to Found this Startup

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