Council Member Funds New Autism Institute
The Kids Institute for Development &
Advancement (KiDA) offers
a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to autism
treatment, providing education, therapy, medicine, and family
support for children with autism. Image courtesy of KiDA.
Parents of autistic children often have trouble finding
suitable schooling and treatment providers for their children,
and are left perplexed and exhausted by managing all of the
separate services for their children's care. CCST Council
member, Fariborz Maseeh, was one such parent. When he wasn't
able to find the combination of services that his son required,
he took a different approach, founding a new school dedicated
to the education and treatment of children with autism. The
program started with just one therapist four years ago, and on
February 23, the Kids Institute for Development & Advancement
(KiDA) will enter a new stage of its expansion, with the
opening of a custom built and fully integrated 50,000 square
foot facility in Irvine, CA.
"There are a lot of wonderful institutions and companies
that provide therapy and education for children with autism,"
said Maseeh. "However, until now, no one has brought everything
under the same roof. With KiDA, we have created a uniquely
integrated set of services, ranging from educational to
medical, which will hopefully prove to be more effective and
less stressful for children. Additionally, we are continually
integrating innovative technologies and therapy methods for the
benefit of the children we help at KiDA."
Maseeh is no stranger to such innovative ventures. A
worldwide recognized expert in the field of micro-electro
mechanical systems (MEMS), he founded the IntelliSense
corporation in 1991 and, later, Picoco LLC, an investment
management firm. He is also is the sole founder and president
of The Massiah Foundation, a charitable organization that
invests in transformational projects for broad public benefit.
"The majority of what we've done at Massiah has been
education based," noted Maseeh. "We look for areas where we can
have a large impact, funding something that otherwise would not
be done. One example of this was a gift made to M.I.T. to
increase its undergraduate population by ten percent. Producing
1,000 additional graduates from M.I.T. over a decade is
something that will have a definite economic stimulus.
Basically, we are leveraging existing strengths in new ways."
KiDA is also an example of a program that delivers existing
services in a fundamentally different way. The next step,
according to Maseeh, will be incorporating and evaluating the
best state of the art teaching technologies and content in the
"We have an opportunity to validate whether and to what
extent integrating autism-related services in this manner is
effective," said Maseeh. "There's no question that this
approach is expensive, at least at this point. Hopefully, we
can find ways to reduce some of the expenditures through the
use of technology. With the validation of measured outcomes and
greater financial efficiency, hopefully others will be able to
adopt this integrated educational approach down the road."
Maseeh sees the use of technology in education as critical
to its advancement and efficiency. He feels that CCST, which is
preparing an update to its 2011 report on digitally enhanced
education, can play an important part of that discussion.
"The incorporation of technology is going to be central to
any effective effort to bring our education system into the
21st century, both for special education and mainstream
schools, and CCST can help the state explore how to do that,"
said Maseeh. "Ultimately, it's about creating empowerment
through education, catapulting it forward in a way that it can
have a material impact for society."
CCST Spotlight is a weekly
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