Prachi Deo

A Helping Hand for People with Special Needs

Growing up with a sibling suffering from Down’s syndrome, Prachi experienced the arduous journey of a family having a child with ‘special needs’. Leaving behind a corporate career in technology, she, along with like-minded individuals, started the Nayi Disha Resource Centre which empowers parents who have children with ‘special needs’ by providing them with information and creating a supportive ecosystem.

As the younger sister of a person with Down’s syndrome, Prachi intimately experienced the arduous journey of a family with a ‘special needs’ child. During her brother’s growing up years, there was little awareness about intellectual disabilities such as Down’s syndrome, prognosis and associated therapies. Although, at home, her parents treated the two no differently, she could not reconcile herself to the fact that they had to study in separate schools. She was also acutely aware of the unsaid concerns of her parents about the future.

From a very young age, she hoped to contribute to the field of intellectual and developmental delays. A few years back, she left her corporate career in technology and, hoping to contribute in this field, she volunteered at her brother’s special school. In the course of her inter-actions with parents having children with ‘special needs’, she was shocked to find that, even in this age of information technology, there was such a severe lack of awareness about special needs that it led to delay in diagnosis and intervention. She soon realized that working with one school was not enough. To make a significant difference, it was important to support the families who are the primary change-agents and develop an ecosystem that brings all the stakeholders together.

Prachi, along with like-minded individuals, started the Nayi Disha Resource Centre. The aim of this non-profit organisation is to support parents in this arduous journey by providing information/ knowledge and by creating a supportive ecosystem. It is one of the few organizations in India that is leveraging technology (mobile app, online content and online parent communities) to expand outreach and improve access to critical information for parents of children with IDD. Over the last year and a half, ND has created a web-portal ( www.nayi-disha.org) that currently has an exhaustive list of service providers (doctors, therapists, schools etc.), conducted multiple parent empowerment workshops, developed parent education series in form of audios/videos and connected to more than 1000 parents in Hyderabad. Parents and caregivers not only find information but also add reviews based on their experiences, that further help others make appropriate choices for a better outcome. In partnership with a few reputed children’s hospitals, parents of newly diagnosed children are also informed of Nayi Disha website, where crucial information can be obtained without losing much time. The initial response and feedback of parents and families has been very encouraging and they are looking to scale pan-India.

The journey of a family with a ‘special needs’ child is a unique, endless and tiring journey, with emotional turbulence. Parents go through a gamut of emotions like shock, denial, anger, sorrow and resignation before they finally come to the stage of acceptance. While some find their direction earlier than others, this journey is unexpected and unplanned for any parent. Nayi Disha is a small step in empowering parents to endure that journey. “… and then down the line, you find some hope like Nayi Disha, and say thank you”, remarks a grateful parent.


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