Community Advisory Board
At the Brain Foundation, we believe that individuals on the autism spectrum and their families should have a voice in shaping research priorities. The Brain Foundation relies on its Community Advisory Board for advice on key decisions involving strategy.
Hari Srinivasan is a student at UC Berkeley majoring in Psychology and minoring in Disability Studies. He is a member of the Golden Key Honor Society and the Psi Chi Honor Society.
As a minimally speaking autistic who types to communicate, Srinivasan has been active in the disability space and in advocacy. At UC Berkeley, he has been the lead student instructor for a semester-long course on autism since Spring 2019, also helping drive the curriculum to be more relevant to current issues. He is a board member for the student organization, Spectrum At Cal, which oversees campus-related autism events and community volunteer efforts. As a staff reporter for the city and student newspaper, The Daily Californian, he writes about both disability and non-disability related issues including a weekly column on autism. His articles are being used in trainings about accessibility and programming at other college campuses. He has won many awards for his writing in the past and has been published.
During summer 2019 he was selected for the Campus Inclusion Leadership Program by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network in Washington DC to learn about disability justice and autistic identity and had the opportunity to make a case to staffers on Capitol Hill about disability laws. He was also an associate intern with World Enabled working on the smart cities Cities4all initiative. He has done various other internships in the past.
Srinivasan is very interested in the autism research field and has been building up skills as a research assistant at the Hinshaw Lab for several semesters helping with research work on mental health and ADHD. He feels that too often the health care of autistics are brushed off as “due to autism” by clinicians. He would like to see research that helps establish FDA approved standards of care to help autistics get relief from their health-related needs often due to co-morbidities. Such care would greatly enhance their quality of life.
Srinivasan enjoys following all the major sports and college football and hopes that Berkeley will win at least one ‘Big Game’ (college football) against its longstanding rival Stanford during the time he is there.
David Teplitz is a 24 year old non speaking autistic political science major senior at UC Berkeley with a 3.8 GPA. He lives in Oakland, CA with his parents, younger brother and many loving relatives nearby. His incredible ABA therapist and his speech pathologist taught him to type when he was five and he has always been included in the public school system. David loves good food, movies, hiking and travel. He hopes to be a trailblazer for other non speaking individuals who want to attend college. He realizes that on paper his life sounds great but the everyday reality is very different. Not being able to speak and constantly being stuck by apraxia has limited both his social interactions and his daily life skills. David supports the Brain Foundation because he believes that more medical interventions are necessary to improve the quality of life for many autistics. Not being able to speak, having to type extremely slowly, and needing a one on one aide at all times is no fun for anyone, especially for a young man who wants to go out on a date!
Rishab Thapar is currently a student at Evergreen Community College majoring in psychology. In time, he cherishes the opportunity to transfer to a top research university and pursue a neuroscience degree at a well-known colligate institution. The long-term interests for him include the areas to uncover and research the underlying medical struggles of autism. Additionally, due to this, he would like to promote better education and understanding to scholars that assist and interface with this unique community. Since he hopes to induce greater awareness about these gifted individuals, developing compassion is the most important goal to extinguish the misconceptions associated with this disability. Years ago, after regressing into the black hole known as the autistic spectrum, Rishab had been consumed with challenges to his body that included a lack of positive focus which devastated his confidence, as well as decreased his self-esteem. As such, he has observed, through interactions with several top medical experts in the field, there has been a misguided ignorance of empathy that exists to uncover and guarantee a breakthrough for those impacted by this devastating condition, as well as its associated comorbidities. This has motivated him to dedicate his life to reinvent the stereotypes of this condition by actively investigating the foundational root medical causes and complications associated with autism, thereby inducing the discovery of leading therapeutic advancements. Due to this acknowledgement, he is grateful to join and accept his position on the advisory board of the Brain Foundation. After being impacted through most of life’s hurdles, Rishab was fortunately able to find and benefit from the nurturing environment of a private high school that helped him regain confidence. As this school became a beginning change to a glorious tide, it was incremental to realize his talent as an aspiring writer and restored his ability to want to fight and advocate for those faced with his same hardships. Graduating, in June 2019, with valedictorian honors and accolades rejuvenated his determination to continue his journey to become the first nonverbal research scientist that hopes to cure autism. This is the greatest hope that kindles the light that will be the end to closing the disability that has grown epidemically.