I found a series of non-profits that deal specifically with the education of autistic children, specifically “New York Center for Autism Charter School (NYCA),” “Foundation for Educating Children with Autism (FECA),” and “The Hummingbird Institutes.”
NYCA has a relatively simple, straightforward mission statement – “To address the serious gaps in the areas of education, training, clinical services, support and research related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD).” Two mothers concerned with the state of public education for autistic children set up the school in 2005. I think this would be a great non-profit (assuming a public charter school is a non-profit?) to work with developing an educational toy for autistic children. They have a one-on-one teacher to student ratio, and seem very concerned with the development and growth of the children in the program. The school also has a strong commitment to science-based research initiatives, involving both professional and student clinicians in their development process. The school seems relatively open to collaboration, therefore they might be willing to work closely with me on the project.
FECA has a somewhat similar mission to the charter school – they are “dedicated to providing the appropriate educational opportunities for children with autism based on applied behavior analysis (ABA), through the development of schools, inclusion and vocational programs, consumer advocacy and community outreach.” They use the ABA method of teaching exclusively, which I will explore further in my research. The school has been in operation for thirteen years, and works with people aged 5-21 (a larger age range than the NYCA). The website however is a little unclear about the cost of attending the institution, and does not expressly say what percentage of the non-profit’s efforts go towards the school. Regardless, I am definitely interested in exploring this non-profit further.
The Hummingbirds Institute focuses on educating autistic children in the arts, specifically music, yoga, and dance. Their mission is to “inspire and empower children, teens, and adults with special needs through dance, yoga, and music.” I feel like this would be a very interesting non-profit to work with – they take a radically different approach to autism and perhaps could inspire some very interesting project directions. I am interested to see if they would be open to exploring design as an artistic avenue. If so, I think I could explore a very hands-on, very exciting project direction, maybe creating some sort of design program for the children.