We start our introduction to the Different Roads to Learning staff with no other than our President, founder and force extraordinaire, Julie Azuma. Julie is an incredible, tireless force, an advocate for families and an activist who never ceases to share her knowledge and expertise. Julie started Different Roads to Learning in 1995, a few years after her daughter Miranda was diagnosed with autism at the age of 6. Back then, autism was already rising with rates jumping from 1 in 2500 in 1985 to 1 in 500 in 1995, but well below the current estimates of 1 in 88 children, and 1 in 54 boys. In the maze of appointments, therapy sessions and doctors, she kept being told to find materials like 1-inch color cubes with no numbers or writing on them, or a specific non-distracting flashcard. As hard as she scoured the resources in New York City and on the web, she had an incredibly difficult time locating the materials that would help Miranda learn. With true entrepreneurial spirit and a fierce devotion to helping her daughter, Different Roads to Learning was launched in May of 1995 with about 30 products.
Julie started the company on the premise that parents who had home ABA programs needed help in finding the products for their children on the spectrum. Since that time, schools across the country are now supporting Applied Behavior Analysis and Verbal Behavior teaching. Tens of thousands of children have been mainstreamed by the age of five. Our children are more capable in every way.
Today, Julie is proud that the mission of Different Roads has not changed. The goal remains to provide the most effective, affordable and appropriate materials out there to support students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in their social and academic growth.
Fun Fact: Our URL is www.difflearn.com because back in the dark ages of the internet, you couldn’t string more than 9 digits together.
After 18 years, what do you look forward to every day?
Looking for new ways to connect with our kids. Whether it’s researching new products with Abigail at Toy Fair or looking for a way to create a new app….I love the idea of giving our kids new opportunities to learn language and social skills.
What’s your hope for Different Roads in the next few years?
It’s my hope that Different Road endures in the years to come while giving kids the skills to mainstream. We hope to help more children in Early Intervention and reach across the spectrum to support social skills for our students in school age programs.