Special School for Disabled

& Rehabilitation Center

About Us

The Special School for Disabled and Rehabilitation Center – SSDRC – is a non-government and non-profit making, registered educational centre for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), based in Kathmandu, Nepal.

SSDRC was founded in October 2010 by philanthropist and campaigner Sabita Upreti...

Our New School

In 2018, SSDRC began fundraising to move to a new permanent home in Chagunarayan Manicipality, Bhaktapur District, which will up the capacity to 60 children and guarantee the school’s existence for years to come. As of early 2020, we are excited to announce that building is now under way!

Case Studies

Some of our students Laxmi, Aadesh, Alisha, Bimarsh give us an insight into their backgrounds, the challenges they face and how SSDRC is helping them to overcome them.


SSDRC uses Montessori teaching methods, utilising multiple technologies such as computers and audio/visual aids, and other mediums such as music and art, tailored according to the severity of each child's disability.

Our experienced and dedicated staff primarily focus on children aged 3 to 13 years old, though likewise we also have several training and support programs for adults to ensure ongoing care and support.

About Us


The Special School for Disabled and Rehabilitation Center – SSDRC – is a non-government and non-profit making, registered educational centre for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), based in Kathmandu, Nepal.

SSDRC was founded in October 2010 by philanthropist and campaigner Sabita Upreti with the goal of providing specialist education and therapy for deprived children and families in Nepal – a country where such services are in critically slight supply. Home to 45 children, the primary aim of the centre is to rehabilitate children with autism into the wider community, guided by the ethos that every individual with autism has the right to services that enhance their well-being and quality of life.

Our Vision

At SSDRC we believe that every autistic individual is unique and has their own needs, challenges and gifts. We work to discover and understand the strengths of every individual child, and work to develop the areas where they need the greatest attention.

Our mission is also to spread awareness about autism throughout Nepal. To help combat the taboos surrounding developmental delay and autism amongst families and the wider society, and to encourage people to pay attention to the symptoms of autism instead of hiding them. The earlier children are diagnosed, the better their future prospects. Everybody deserves to be heard and seen and reach their full potential.

Our Children

Our New School

In 2018, SSDRC began fundraising to move to a new permanent home in Chagunarayan Manicipality, Bhaktapur District, which will up the capacity to 60 children and guarantee the school’s existence for years to come.

As of early 2020, we are excited to announce that building is now under way!


SSDRC is always looking for enthusiastic and committed volunteers to help contribute towards our mission. Volunteers bring fresh ideas and energy and leave nourished and grounded. Working at SSDRC offers an unforgettable experience to anyone passing through Nepal, while we also welcome specialists who are able to share their expertise with our staff and students.

During their time with SSDRC, volunteers have the chance to interact and communicate directly with our children and teachers. Every day is new and different at SSDRC, though a typical volunteer’s day might include the following:

  • Daily classes: Supporting our staff with lesson planning, preparation and running of classes
  • Creative activities: Children with autism often respond well to interactive learning, so singing, dancing, art, games and the like. are frequently used in the classroom
  • Language skills: Our children love to learn English, so our volunteers are actively encouraged to participate in English lessons
  • Health and Hygiene: Teaching our children how to wash their hands, how to brush their teeth, and increasing their awareness and understanding of basic hygiene
  • Required skills: To allow our school and curriculum to progress and evolve, we are particularly interested in those with the following skillsets; Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, Psychologists, Special Educators, ABA Therapists, Music/Art/Dance Therapists

Student Case Studies


I don’t know exactly how old I am, or when my birthday is. My teachers tell me I’m probably about 18 already, but I’ll never know for sure. I can’t ask my parents, because I don’t know who they are – I’m an orphan.


When I joined SSDRC five years ago I had never been to school before. I was diagnosed with autism when I was a small boy and my parents didn’t know what to do with me.

All that changed when I joined SSDRC; it turns out what I needed was a structured day and a stable environment.

The proudest day of my life was when, after showing such fast progress, my teachers selected me to represent SSDRC at the International Conference on Developmental Disability, hosted in Melbourne, Australia, in August 2016.


Unlike most of the children at SSDRC, I was lucky enough to go to a normal, government school. I got all the way to Grade 7 – the only problem was that I never even learnt the alphabet, in English or Nepali. Most of the time my teachers just ignored me and left me in the corner by myself. They couldn’t understand me.

It wasn’t until I was 16 that I joined SSDRC and was exposed to my first specialist teaching. I realised for the first time that I wasn’t the only one like me. After my 21st birthday I was very scared of leaving SSDRC, I didn’t know what role I could play in society. I was so happy when I was asked to stay on and join the staff as a teaching assistant.


I come from Nepalgunj, a town in the Southwestern part of Nepal. When I was diagnosed with autism, at the age of six, my mother made the difficult decision to move with me to Kathmandu. It split my family up – my father had to stay behind and work in our hometown.

When I joined the school, I was very difficult to control, but within a few weeks I began picking up the alphabet, and was soon able to say short sentences. I like teaching the alphabet to other children – “A is for apple, B is for ball…”.

About Autism

Autism is a developmental disorder characterised, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive and antisocial behaviours. Initially identified in 1943, it was not until 2013 that the present autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis was defined – a gradual, umbrella scale which incorporates many existing developmental disorders, including autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). Currently, one in 59 children in the USA are diagnosed with ASD, a rate it is believed would be replicated internationally if a similar level of professional services were in place.

However, autism was not recognised by authorities in Nepal until the early 2000s, which has only made the need yet more pronounced and grave – more than 400 children are currently on the waiting list to join SSDRC, one of just a handful of specialist educational centres in the country.

Our Team

Read About Sabita's Journey

When Sabita Upreti first discovered an autistic child, chained up alone in a dark room, she knew her life was about to change. The next tragic child she encountered, locked up, unwashed, with nobody and nothing to engage with, made up her mind. After seven years working as both a teacher, and an education journalist fighting for the rights of rural girls too often denied an education, Sabita joined Nepali humanitarian organisation the National Disabled Fund (NDF) in 2008 as a social worker - a role which took her across the country - and into Kathmandu’s slums, where she encountered conditions she never could have imagined.

“I encountered the worst case scenarios - children locked in rooms and sometimes even left alone with their feces and urine. It was then that I became determined to dedicate my life to the betterment of autistic children,” she remembers today.

That experience began the long journey which eventually led to the establishment of SSDRC. Her first step was convincing her parents to grant her the dowry they had saved for a future husband to set up the organisation. Then there was a long battle with the Nepali government, which didn’t recognise autism and see the need to licence a specialist centre. And then there were the parents who, due to a lack of awareness, resented Sabita’s intrusion into their lives. “Some parents even set a dog on us to force us to run away from their house,” she remembers. “The Nepal government also didn’t believe in opening such a school in Nepal. So, at first, denied registering our organisation smooth way. As a result, it consumed a long time to get legal approval.”

This is why, as well as finally setting up one of the country’s only specialist centres for autistic children, in October 2010, Sabita has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about autism in Nepal, emerging over the past decade as one of the country’s greatest experts on the subject, regularly appearing in domestic media and sitting on numerous government advisory boards.

“As well as our school, we are spreading autism awareness all over Nepal. Still in every step there are formidable challenges and problems to be dealt with. Financial shortage, insufficient dedication from skilled personnel in this field and societal biases are all still common.

“Our work is just beginning,” she adds, “but on the other hand, we’ve already achieved more than I ever imagined.”

Lifetime Members

  • Sabita Upreti Dolakha, Nepal
  • Bhabani Upreti Dolakha, Nepal
  • Bharat Upreti Dolakha,Nepal
  • Bidur Upreti Dolakha, Nepal
  • Kuber Upreti Dolakha, Nepal
  • Ritu Upreti Dolakha, Nepal
  • Rupa Tamang Dolakha, Nepal
  • Kamala Dhakal Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Jayaram Timilsina Kavre, Nepal
  • Tara Bhujel Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Krishna Niraula Biratnagar, Nepal
  • Shree krishna & Pabitra Dhunagana
  • Ambika Bhattarai & Hari Ojha NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Asmita Banjara & Krish Ranabhat NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Baburam Bhattarai NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Bipin & Bhagawati Lamichhane NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Hari & Sushila Rijal NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Hem Pun NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Laxman Aryal NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Niraj & Meenu Gurung NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Nabin Bhandari NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Paresh Raj Ghimire NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Ramesh Pudasaini NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Sarita Koirala NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Shiva & Shree Poudel NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Sushila Shrestha NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Sushila Pandey Kadel NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Sharda Oli Neupane Pepsicola-Kathmandu
  • Sushila Priyanka Yadav Canada

  • Dipendra & Sushila Ghimire NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Tewish Pradhan NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Dr Kush Shrestha NT, Darwin, Australia
  • Santosh Kuwar Brisbane, Australia
  • Umesh Khadka Brisbane, Australia
  • Suresh Shrestha Brisbane, Australia
  • Hom Poudel Brisbane, Australia
  • Bikash Chapagain Brisbane, Australia
  • Sunita Shrestha Brisbane, Australia
  • Narayan Koirala Brisbane, Australia
  • Sagar Pandey Brisbane, Australia
  • Santosh Pathak Brisbane, Australia
  • Dinesh Joshi Sydney, Australia
  • Sudip Madvari Sydney, Australia
  • Dila Kharel Sydney, Australia
  • Indra Ban Sydney, Australia
  • Anjana Basnet Sydney, Australia
  • Nanda Gurung Sydney, Australia
  • Ashok K.C. Adelaide, Australia
  • Renuka Lama Adelaide, Australia
  • Pratistha Gautam Adelaide, Australia
  • Sita Bhatta Adelaide, Australia
  • Astha K.C. Adelaide, Australia
  • Nilam Mahat Adelaide, Australia
  • Raju Upadhyaya Adelaide, Australia
  • Punam Panth Adelaide, Australia
  • Hari Prasad Upreti Sinamangal-Kathmandu
  • Yashoda Upreti Pathak Sinamangal-Kathmandu
  • Programmes

    At SSRDC children with autism and other special educational needs are taught by utilising a combination of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and Montessori Methods, tailored according to the nature of each child’s disability. We also use music and art to develop skills, delivered by our experienced staff. We mainly focus on children from 3 to 13-years-old but also offer various support programmes and vocational training for older teenagers and young adults.

    Our therapeutic services include: speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, as well as sensory integration and music therapy. The children also go through regular medical and dental check-ups and have access to transportation services to and from school. A hot lunch is provided daily for the children and staff.

    We also offer home visits, family training and counselling and complete a variety of community outings and extracurricular activities with our students.

    In addition to the services offered to the students and their families, SSDRC staff deliver awareness campaigns throughout Nepal as well as special education teacher training.

    SSDRC in Numbers


    Full time pupils


    Public awareness campaigns across Nepal


    Children attended since 2010


    Parents trained


    International awards


    Students benefited from outpatient services


    International volunteers


    Schools and colleges assisted with autism training


    Countries visited for training and conferences

    Contact Us