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Tech student building a more inclusive future for neurodivergent kids


For most of his life, 14-year-old Dàre Fasugba has shared a home with his younger brother, who has non-verbal autism. While he would always find ways to communicate and connect with his brother, Dàre learned first-hand the issues of living with an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis (ASD) outside of his home.

Ignorant of their experience, some would make jokes and reinforce harmful stereotypes about the capabilities of neurodivergent people. Realising the significant gap that remains in education, the St Francis Xavier College ACT student is now developing an app to help others better understand life with autism, leading to him winning our 2022 Edstart Achievement Award in the category of Technology and Innovation.

Talented young programmer

With a keen interest in mathematics, robotics, and game development, Dàre has always been analytically minded with an eye for solutions. Thinking critically about the videogames he would play as a child, he would wonder to himself “why not make my own”, and not long after in year 7 he started learning to code.

Embracing the sense of freedom that coding gives to define his own challenges and create unique experiences, Dàre has continued to develop his skills and knowledge attending multiple camps, workshops, and innovation programs.

Growing up with his brother

Dàre’s brother would always sit and watch him play games when he was younger. One day, after giving it a go, his brother was on his way to being an avid gamer himself.

Through their shared love of gaming, he connected with his brother and realised that given an opportunity and time, he’s capable of doing and enjoying many of the same things as other kids.

Creating the LOAD app

As a skilful programmer with a natural mind for problem-solving who has created his own games and apps, Dàre saw the opportunity to use his talents to break stereotypes by developing the Living Out an Autism Diagnosis (LOAD) app, a digital storybook centred around autism awareness.

Many neurodivergent kids still face bias and a range of misconceptions about their ability from others and experience difficulties integrating into mainstream primary schools. His project intends to address this issue by providing important education through the lens of an engaging story about a main character with autism.

By understanding the realities of people like his brother, Dàre hopes to show that people with ASD are not so different from others and can do many of the same things they can.

A more inclusive future

With the help of the $1,500 award grant from Edstart, Dàre is jumpstarting the development of his app by learning Apple’s Swift programming language, which will help him bring LOAD to all iOS users.

Dàre is focused on laying the groundwork to make LOAD impactful. His next steps are to start the concept design of the app and undertake research on autism from reliable sources to combine with his lived experience.

Looking into the future, Dàre hopes that giving people a better understanding of the neurodivergent experience will lead to a more empathetic and inclusive environment for kids with special needs.

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