Parent Spotlight: Lavanya Selvam Alli

As a neurodivergent mom (OCD) of a neurodivergent child (Autism) and as an environmental advocacy consultant, I am working on ideas to connect environmental sustainability in the broader neurodivergent space.

Lavanya Selvam Alli

Meet our newest team member! Lavanya Selvam Alli joins the PCC as a consultant, bringing a decade of experience in grant writing, research, and environmental filmmaking, both in the U.S. and India. Below, Lavanya shares her multi-continent journey into climate advocacy, along with her experiences raising a neurodivergent family in Austin.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi everyone! I live in the Mueller neighborhood of Austin, TX with my daughter Meera and spouse Sabari.

I have 9+ years of communications, research and project management experience across the United States, Latin America, and India. I have worked on projects addressing climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation, forest/land management, and community resilience. My writing and research work for global multilateral organizations include UNESCO, IUCN and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

As a neurodivergent mom (OCD) of a neurodivergent child (Autism) and as an environmental advocacy consultant, I am working on ideas to connect environmental sustainability in the broader neurodivergent space.

As a member of Parents Climate Community, I look forward to using my experience to advocate for a better planet for our children and their future!

Lavanya Selvam Alli 1
Lavanya Selvam Alli

How and when did you first get interested in environmental advocacy?

Growing up in India, my grandfather was instrumental in introducing me to the concept of Humanist Environmentalism, the idea that humans have the fundamental responsibility to care for the planet and for each other. 

While doing my Masters in Film Production at Bristol, United Kingdom, I had the opportunity to visit BBC’s Natural History Unit, where the world renowned filmmaker David Attenborough produced his award winning nature documentaries. This encouraged me to pursue my career as a documentary filmmaker focusing on environmental advocacy issues in India.

After moving to the United States, I have continued to work with organizations addressing biodiversity conservation, clean energy solutions and climate equity among other environmental concerns facing the world. 

Earlier in your career, you worked on environmental and social documentaries for the Environmental Defense Fund, Global Voice Productions, and others. Tell us about a film project that sticks with you from those days, and why. 

A project that is close to my heart is a documentary I produced for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, on the vulnerability assessment and climate change adaptation of rural communities in India. The film was also showcased at the Development and Climate Days Film Festival in Poznań, held in parallel with the United Nations Climate Change Conference. 

This project allowed me to break down the science behind water revitalization techniques, cropping patterns in semi-arid zones, and mapping local weather changes, through the real life stories of frontline communities.

This project demonstrated the importance of bringing together advice, ideas and perspectives from key stakeholders (communities, non-profit organizations and government agencies) on the common goals of climate action, biodiversity conservation and community development. 

You took an important break from work over the last few years to evaluate your daughter for Autism and connect her with the therapies and support for her to thrive. What are a few resources you discovered during your journey that might be helpful for Austin parents of neurodivergent kids?

It makes me immensely happy to note the increasing awareness and inclusion of Autism, Dyslexia, ADHD and other forms of neurodiversity in schools and workplaces. As a parent of an Autistic child, my most important advice for parents who may think their child might be on the Autism spectrum is to have them evaluated by a developmental pediatrician at an early age. 

Setting up my daughter with important services including ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), Speech and Occupational therapies has helped her adapt to and navigate a (still largely) neurotypical world. We are grateful to our team of therapists for encouraging our daughter to be her best self. 

Along with diverse therapy services, there are amazing support groups for parents of neurodiverse kids in Austin and Central Texas. In my subsequent blog posts for PCC, I look forward to highlighting these services. 

As a busy parent, how do you take care of yourself? Any favorite spots around town or ways to unwind?

We absolutely love living in Mueller, as our neighborhood has amazing accessibility to different kinds of parks and green zones. We can unwind anytime of the day, just by walking one of the trails and admiring the sheer diversity of plants and wildlife. 

My daughter loves exploring the parks with her neighborhood friends, which have various kinds of playscapes to meet the needs of children of all ages. 

We also love supporting Mueller small business owners which include bakeries, restaurants and boutiques. One of our weekend highlights is visiting the Mueller Farmers Market, which takes place every Sunday from 10 am till 2 pm. 

I look forward to highlighting more parks and outdoor spaces in Austin that meet the recreational needs of the communities and promote a healthy love for the environment. 

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