Deka Kurniawan

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2012
Rumah Autis


This profile was prepared when Deka Kurniawan was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Deka’s goal is to improve Indonesia’s capacity to serve autistic children and their families. This means making affordable services widely available. The first step is to define and demonstrate what can be achieved. By directly operating Rumah Autis centers, and helping others to replicate this work, Deka is beginning to build the field. But his vision also requires a longer-term effort to advocate for the government to take up the issue, by giving existing local state-run daycare centers tools for supporting autistic children and their families.

Deka managed to recruit his wife’s colleague who worked at the private autism center to work pro bono. Her first patients were the children who had been rejected from that center. When he met these children in their homes, he noticed how hyperactive they were and how much damage had been done to the house since they had no outlet to relieve their hyperactivity.

Deka realized the importance of an actual physical center, where children could receive treatment, families could be trained to deal with their behavior, and there was space for play that was tailored to the children's needs. Since there were no centers for poor families, Deka accepted the lack of infrastructure as an opportunity to define the needs of the field and create the space for it.

Deka has created a model for an autism center, Rumah Autis, which is independently operated and easily replicated. He has set up and continues to run a number of centers, and helps others to do the same. Deka also understands the importance of employing professionals and drawing from existing expertise. He has established seven Rumah Autis centers around Indonesia, with another two centers functioning independently. As he sees his centers being replicated around Indonesia, and his understanding of autism grows, he realized the unique skill set that autistic children are equipped with. Deka is setting up a number of businesses where autistic individuals can be employed, further contributing to their independence and likelihood of living more complete, fulfilling lives.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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