Founded by Dr. Bertram A. Ruttenberg as a demonstration project of the University of Pennsylvania. The Center is the first clinic in the country to exclusively treat autism, and pioneers therapeutic approaches to autism such as the use of music therapy, movement therapy and sensory integration.
The Center develops the Behavior Rating Instrument for Autistic and Atypical Children (BRIAAC), a testing tool for Autism Spectrum Disorders and a prototype for future assessment tools.
With funding from the U.S. Board of Education, the Center develops Project LINK, an integrated program that addresses learning issues and physical, intellectual and emotional needs for autistic children in school settings. This model is replicated and used by school districts throughout the country.
Dr. Bertram Ruttenberg provides expert testimony in the United States District Court of Pennsylvania case of Armstrong v. Kline. He heavily influences the outcome of the proceedings, resulting in the extended school year (ESY) for handicapped children.
In the United States Court of Appeals case of Jackson v. O’Bannon, Dr. Ruttenberg is instrumental in convincing the court to require the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare to extend the number of hours for outpatient therapy for individuals with autism.
The Center develops its Specialized Autism Services (SAS), simplifying the method of delivering services to clients and families.
The Center is nationally recognized by the American Psychiatric Association for significant achievement in developing a comprehensive program for treating profoundly autistic children, a model that is still reflected in its services today.
In response to Pennsylvania’s dramatic increase in autism cases, the Department of Public Welfare creates the Autism Task Force, in which The Center for Autism plays a key role. Its final report proposes a system for autistic individuals that would make Pennsylvania a model of excellence for the delivery of autism services.
A new treatment program for school-age children, the Social Competency Program, is added to the Center’s repertoire of available services. The program is focused on facilitating social skills and competencies through learning how to identify and interpret social cues, understand emotions and feelings, improving self-esteem and working collaboratively with others.
The Center announces it has changed its name from “Center for Autistic Children” to “The Center for Autism.” The organization’s new identity and logo better reflect the range of services for individuals with autism and their families. The Center was first incorporated in 1970 under the name, “Developmental Center for Autistic Children.”
The Center launches a $3 million capital campaign and moves to a new, larger headquarters at 3905 Ford Road in Philadelphia. This new location allows the Center to serve more children and families and meet the growing needs of the community.
A new satellite facility opens at 2801 Grant Avenue in Philadelphia. Through this site, the Center provides its programs to over 100 children and families in the Northeast Philadelphia community.
The Pre-K Program, the Center’s largest treatment program, receives accreditation from CARF International. Founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, CARF International is an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services.
The Board of Directors approves the Center for Autism’s Strategic Plan. The Center will be guided by the objectives outlined in the plan, which focus on improving its financial position, offering new services, developing outcome measures, and cultivating strategic partnerships. These objectives position the Center to best serve individuals and families affected by autism in the community.
The Center welcomes David M. Maola, Esq. to the organization as Chief Executive Officer. David is an experienced nonprofit leader who has successfully developed sustainable, financially viable futures for regional and international organizations. He oversees the organization’s $13 million annual budget, 160 employees and programs that serve over 1,000 people annually at two locations.