British philanthropist Sanjay Shah never had more of a challenge in raising donations and awareness to any particular charity until his son, Nikhil, was diagnosed with autism in 2011. After being told Nikhil would be on Dubai Autism Centre’s waiting list for five years before being able to begin applied behavior analysis therapy, he knew he had to do something. After all, the faster a child can begin therapy, the quicker they can develop. He had the ability to pay for his child’s personal therapy at home, however there were families who weren’t the same position. Shah wanted to help and bought two minibuses for the Centre. But in order to get at the root of understanding the cause and effects of autism, he focused his efforts on the research.
It all began when Snoop Dog came to visit Shah at his home in Dubai. The visit sparked Shah’s love for music again and gave him the idea that he could hold private music gigs to raise large sums of money. Autism Rocks, a charity where the donations go to the Autism Research Trust, or ART, was born. ART supports Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre which researches the cause and effects of autism. Shah has hosted world renowned Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Joss Stone, and Elvis Costello and has raised 15 million United Arab Emirates Dirhams. The ARC has 15 long-term research projects working on methods of identifying autism as early as possible.
Earlier this month, Shah created a GoFundMe account for anyone to donate to the ARC’s research. His goal is 6610 British pounds. The goal of Autism Rocks is not to find a cure, but to better understand autism at its core. He states on the GoFundMe page, “….so I can better understand Nikhil and how he maybe thinking; the only way I can do that is via research.” Parents who live with autism can certainly appreciate Shah’s effort, but not able to help on a large dollar amount scale.