In this talk Geetha Moorthy, Executive Director of the SAAAC Autism Centre, and Tanu Bajaj, Occupational Therapist, speak about how dance combines body and mind to provide social, emotional, physical and its cognitive benefits. Dance can be used as a powerful tool to facilitate a positive change in all aspects of our lives. This session will highlight how the art of dance laid the foundation of SAAAC Autism Centre and its ongoing positive impact on clients and their well-being.

About the Speakers

Geetha Moorthy is the Founder and Executive Director of the SAAAC Autism Centre. From classical arts, to business and entrepreneurship, and community development, Geetha Moorthy’s passion and commitment has touched countless lives for more than 30 years. An accountant by training, Geetha immigrated to Canada from Sri Lanka in 1983. Like many immigrants, she struggled to settle in Canada before eventually finding her footing in business where she has held senior roles in controllership and operations. In addition to her promising career, Geetha also founded the Narthanalaya Centre for South Asian Dances in 1985. A trained dancer in the Indian classical dance genres of Bharathanatyam and Kuchipudi, Geetha has taught hundreds of students in and around the Greater Toronto Area. It was at Narthanalaya that Geetha first came across some students who were diagnosed with autism. Touched by these students’ commitment to dance, Geetha increasingly became aware of the impact of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in newcomer communities. In 2008, Geetha founded the SAAAC Autism Centre in direct response to the growing need for awareness and support for South Asian families impacted by ASD and related developmental disorders. The Centre began with two families, a handful of volunteers, and minimal resources. In subsequent years, the Centre expanded its scope and services to support other newcomer communities living with ASD because these families lacked access to vital ASD services and information due to language barriers, low incomes, and lack of networks. In addition to her responsibilities as Executive Director, Geetha still leads the dance program at the SAAAC Autism Centre.

Tanu Bajaj, OT Reg. (Ont.) is an occupational therapist at SAAAC Autism Centre. She completed her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy at Glasgow Caledonian University, United Kingdom. She is registered with the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (COTO) and a member of Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT). Tanu holds a Master’s degree in Child Development as well giving her knowledge of developmental psychology and interdependence of all aspects of development i.e. physical, cognitive, emotional and social. Tanu has additional training in Sensory Processing Disorder, Handwriting without Tears, Therapeutic Listening (Quickshifts), Neuro-Developmental Treatment and DIRFloortime. Her clinical experience involves working with children and adolescents with learning disabilities, developmental delays, sensory processing challenges, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Generalized and Social Anxiety Disorder. Tanu has experience in assessment and treatment of children with fine motor and gross motor delays, sensory, social and emotional challenges in schools and community settings.