SMILES Foundation India: Bridging the Mile in Special Skills™

SMILES Foundation India

Special schools are built with the idea of creating a suitable environment for specially abled students. To cater to an inclusive society in a contemporary world, it was important to enhance the traditional school environment to provide quality education to students who needed special facilities to flourish, and this need generated the idea of special schools.

SMILES Foundation India is on a journey to make special children aware of their skills, talents, and capabilities. With its inspiring journey and efforts made in the last 6 years, it has paved a path for special students for global exposure.

Father’s Quest to Nurture them All

Being a father of an AUTISM child student, the journey of D. Mallikarjuna Rao deserves to be applauded. Before establishing SMILES, Mallikarjuna Rao travelled 80000kms taking his child to various institutions for therapies and paying thousands of rupees per month. Due to these experiences, the idea of the SMILES Foundation became a reality in January 2016 when D. Mallikarjuna Rao aimed to have all therapies for special students under one roof, hosted by qualified professionals, conduct free assessments, and parent counselling and make affordable at ease for all parents of Autism and Neuro Diversity Children.

SMILES Special School is a comprehensive multi-service school and wellness centre that provides educational, therapeutic, and recreational services for children with special needs, thereby fostering their physical, educational, emotional and social development and thus enabling them to play, learn, live and function in the real world.

A team of specialists from the field of special education, psychology, physiotherapy and speech and language knowledge areas are committed to SMILES Foundation India to provide ‘that extra’ need to make a difference in the lives of specially-abled children by encouraging them to realize their true potential.

Ethical Motives

SMILES foundation is on a mission to be a catalyst in providing quality education and functional skill programs that will enable children to realize their optimal potential in academics, development of various skills, socio-emotional functions, and independent living.

The school has the vision to create a world where differently abled children will be completely aware of their full potential.

As a father of an AUTISM child, the Founder and CIO, D. Mallikarjuna Rao, aims to unite all the parents in putting efforts to transform their special children from dependent to independent living.

Impeccable Display by the Founder

Mallikarjuna Rao Dubisetty, the parent of an AUTISM child, took inspiration from experiential learnings from his son continuing independent research in Autism and Neuro Diversity and pursued a master’s in Hospital and Health Systems from BITS Pilani and CMC Vellore. After which, he continued academia of ‘BEd in Special Education – Autism Spectrum Disorder’ from Osmania University and Rehabilitation Counsel of India.

His contributions towards establishing NDCOE – Neuro Diversity Centre Of Excellence and SMILES Special School are exceptional. This initiative touched many lives through various initiatives. Mallikarjuna achieved three gold and one diamond recognitions in this knowledge area for his contributions towards innovation and bringing awareness.

Taking the Driver’s Seat in Special Education Movement

Mallikarjuna Rao states, “SMILES Foundation demonstrated the success of transforming a higher percentage of children from dependent to independent living. It continues to bring awareness to autism spectrum disorder among parents.”

“SMILES Foundation also established the Neuro Diversity Centre of Excellence and contributed its research papers in TEDx talks, International Patient Safety Conference, National Healthcare conference and contributed paper publications at MWC-Mobile World Congress 2023 scheduled in February month,” continues Rao.

The key objective of SMILES is to bring about India’s first technology-enabled special school by developing and deploying ‘Autism Management System’. SMILES Foundation is also aiming to provide visual tools for alternative communication and education support which allow every kid in the village corner of PAN India to avail the assessment and education support through Cloud solutions and Virtual Labs at an affordable cost or free for below-poverty citizens.

Rao adds, “The Lean Health study presentation was exceptional in helping parents. It highlighted the importance of early intervention, medical advice, therapy services, proper diet, and use of tools/technology in wellness programs designed for Autism children.”

Crossing the Marathon of Hurdles

A key challenge for the foundation was to find skilled therapists and offer the services at a low or no-cost model, facilitating support services to lower- and middle-income families. The founder, Mallikarjuna Rao, is carrying out his independent research by collaborating with various institutions like NIEPID, MNR University, SIRDS, KIMS Medical college, etc., to build skilled pool of resources through campus hirings.

For financial sustainability, founder worked night shift in MNC for 15+ years while building the SMILES Foundation and Special school operations and contributed tax paid income to compensate the skilled staff for their contributed services.

Keeping them Hooked

SMILES Foundation is well aware of the significance of student engagement practices. Some of the efforts taken by them have set examples for others to follow.

KooshClub – Kids out of school hobby club, initiated by SMILES Foundation, to embedded non-academic skills in children to better social life. It provides following facilities

  • Introduction of Art therapy
  • Group activities
  • Vocational trainings to support adult persons from Neuro Diversity.

SMILES foundation has also collaborated with various institutions to create employment opportunity guides for boarder line skilled resources.

Special education programs are designed to meet the special needs of children with disabilities by supplementing or adapting the regular curriculum. Instruction may take place in regular classrooms or in separate facilities for all or part of the day. Students may also be assigned to special programs in physical education, occupational and physical rehabilitation, music education programs, home instruction, or instruction in hospitals and other institutions.

What makes ‘SMILES’ Different?

The SMILES foundation has adopted best practices from rest of the world; for example

  • Incorporating SOI program – Structure of Intellect
  • Use of Grolier kit concepts
  • Custom natural wellness methods designing by implementing 4C model – Contribution, Collaboration, Curation and Consumption among Neuro Diversity Centre of Excellence group members associated with World Autism Society.

The following specifications of the SMILES Foundation deserve to be highlighted

  • Regular exposure to all therapies
  • In-house assessment services
  • Online national professional support
  • Neuro-psychological intervention
  • Family-sensitive, family-friendly ambience
  • Fun, safe, resource enriched environment
  • Place where children of differing abilities learn together
  • Nurturing, caring and professional staff
  • Teacher student ratio is 1:3

Feathers in the Cap

The SMILES foundation has received CSR Gold recognition, International Change Maker Award and Recent Govt. of Telangana recognition for empowerment of persons with special abilities under best care giving categories.

Showing Path to Worldwide Special Students

The SMILES Foundation believes it is different ability, not disability. It feels that each student should focus on their strengths and approach early intervention specialists and psychologist to help in performing their SWOT analysis and guide various opportunities and learning paths references. They should be focused and should not hesitate to ask for help.

According to the SMILES Foundation, improving socialization is essential for these students.

Future Innovation at SMILES Foundation

This special school is transforming as an inclusive school with theme of ‘Education for Everyone’ by adopting ECCE Framework and Digital Health and Humanizing technologies. Integration of services through 5G spectrum services, Virtual reality and Augmented reality and AI – Artificial intelligence-based tools will play key role while focusing on parents’ awareness at the SMILES Foundation in the future.

It is also inculcating the concept of DRnME, Doctor and Therapist’s near me, a unique platform to bring Medical Fraternity and Rehabilitation experts under one umbrella to support remote location kids and parents who have mobility challenges and profound situations.

Mallikarjuna Rao says, “Implementation of Sensory Gardens will play key role in improving children with Autism and Neuro Diversity. The concept of full-fledged after school hour KIDS HOBBY CLUBS is quite new in India, and thus KOOSH CLUB intends to facilitate by providing innovative, qualitative service.”

Parents as Catalysts

The SMILES Foundation believes that the parents need to focus on early intervention as best practice, considering facilitating wellness programs at early age gives better results. Every kid is unique hence parents should avoid comparing with other peer groups and work with their family doctors or advisory therapists in planning Individual Education Programs for their kids and work as team. D. Mallikarjuna Rao ends with, “No one can do magic in rehabilitating neuro disorders; it is implanting wellness programs consistently will help transforming children from dependent to independent living.”


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