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The Affinity Project (TAP) is built on inventions developed across two decades by the Suskind family in concert with leading autism experts that helped shape an emerging family of patented technologies. These innovations now drive several research initiatives that are showing measurable gains for neuro-diverse individuals.

As rendered in the book, Life, Animated, and an award-winning documentary film of the same name, the Suskind family developed what they and now neurologists and clinicians call Affinity Therapy* -- a methodology of using content that taps into a subject’s intense interest, or affinity, as an avenue to deep connection and therapeutic application.

These intense interests, a core characteristic of ASD, had long been characterized as obsession, non-productive perseverations that should be reduced, used to draw attention and redirect it (Floortime), or as rewards in behavioral therapies (ABA or PRT).
The view help by the Suskinds and others in the autism community, and now widely adopted, is these interests are not prisons but pathways, to be validated as meaningful engagements that tap underlying cognitive and emotive capacities. Latest thinking, is that these passions may comport with a growth in intense, deeply-nourished interests that are shaping behaviors and identity in this era of instant information availability.

Self-directness, also a key characteristic of ASD, can now be nourished on demand for all human knowledge and associated content. Across societies in the U.S. and abroad, populations are increasingly being defined by a phrase long used by those on the spectrum -- “what we love is who we are” -- as visual and auditory inputs can increasingly be integrated into the art and act of living. By allowing users – both neuro-diverse of neuro-typical – to gather in real time and safely connect with each other, to build bonds and community around their defining passions, TAP has formed a new humanistic social media that carefully manages shared interests as the key mode for identifying and organizing users.






The Project on Affinities
and Language (PAL)

Using fMRI, neuro scientists at MIT compared the brain activity of children with ASD when they watched videos content about their affinities to their brain activity when they watch neutral video content. 
“....what we can see is that she recruits more of the language network when she is listening to stories about MBTA commuter rail trains than when she is listening to stories that are not about her affinity. Indeed, the language network that we see for this child listening to her affinities is what we “expect” to see when someone is listening to language.”






︎Harvard/MGH – Exploring the Use of Sidekicks! for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder 

“Professionals and educators from various public service settings, as well as parents and family members, are able to simultaneously use Sidekicks! to target both discrete and overlapping goal areas and to foster meaningful communication and relationship-building...”



︎ Sidekicks Pilot Project at Ivy Street School: Outcome Report

“Concrete progress directly linked to use of the Sidekicks application was noted in duration and frequency of social interaction, back-and-forth conversation, initiation of social interaction, social-emotional reciprocity, problem solving, and tolerating changes to routines.”

TRANSLATION: ASD teens were engaging much like neuro-typical kids with their on-demand, remote therapists by “campfiring” in real-time around favorite videos.



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