For learners with dyslexia, ADHD and autism, education can often be a struggle. Traditional teaching methods and school systems may feel like they aren’t built for neurodiverse learners, and it can be tough to find resources – even for students in higher education. For the team at the digital therapy start-up Orange Neurosciences in Kingston, Ontario, the passion for helping neurodiverse people be successful is the driving force behind everything they do.
Dr. Vinay Singh started Orange Neurosciences in 2017 as a primarily self-funded start-up, with support from an angel investor and a special education expert, both with dyslexia. After working at Queen’s University for ten years as a professor and helping many students access limited learning resources, Singh saw many gaps in the support for students, including those with learning differences and associated mental health conditions.
“There are not many resources, not many tools for them. That was the time when, as a scientist, as an entrepreneur, I knew that this significant unmet need impacted a lot of people. It’s not just one individual who struggles; the entire family is affected,” Singh said.
Orange’s first product, ReadON, addresses literacy using an online platform developed with a team of global experts in special education, medicine, cognitive science, neurotech, and computer engineering. ReadON uses the science of neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to re-train itself) and artificial intelligence to address the cognitive barriers that hinder reading fluency and comprehension. ReadON is now available in eight countries through more than four hundred specialists. The 15-week program sees results faster and delivers them more affordably than traditional therapies.
Sylvia, a mother whose son used ReadON, said: “Peter was in grade six and was reading at a grade one-to-two level and struggled immensely with reading and writing. He gave up and was no longer trying. We were both in tears and fighting constantly for him to do his reading homework. After completing ReadON, we saw a complete turn-around in his attitude. It is very noticeable that he has gained confidence in his reading and is reading everything he can from signs and any other text that he encounters.”
Therapists have also expressed how impressed they are with the behavioural changes they see in their patients – changes that go beyond improved reading. “I have used various tools to assist my clients with their reading ability, but ReadON is the one I now rely upon. It has improved outcomes for every child in my practice. Parents tell me of the positive changes they see in their children, not only in reading but in their ability to focus and their self-confidence, among other things. ReadON is truly a game-changer.” Dr. Sulata Shenoy, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and director at the Turning Point Centre for Psychological Assessments, Therapies and Counseling in Bengaluru, India.
The start-up has also seen challenges. When the pandemic struck in early 2020, Orange Neurosciences suffered due to the global closures, including schools and in-person therapy. With this came the opportunity to work on features they had not had time to undertake, including upgrading the new ReadON 2.0 to include more management features to support global distribution and remote online learning.
“Everything stopped. We literally went from hundreds of students doing the program to zero in March, and almost all long-term contracts were cancelled, but that was also a chance to revisit and look at the future of our digital therapy platform,” said Singh.
The company recently launched ReadON Plus, a free 10-minute survey app that provides a rapid evaluation of reading fluency and executive function. Parents can have their children take the survey weekly to understand their reading progress. A free online demo of ReadON is also newly available for parents and specialists to try ReadON and see how it works.
The next venture for Orange Neurosciences?
The launch of a new digital therapy platform, Titli – which means “butterfly” in Hindi – will focus on the core symptoms of autism and ADHD such as hyperactivity, irritability and disruptive behaviour. Like ReadON, Titli will be a gamified platform that is so much fun, kids won’t even realize they are learning new skills!
The team at Orange Neurosciences has taken the science of neuroplasticity to a whole new level that shows promise for application across a range of neurological conditions.
Learn more about Orange Neurosciences!