Our History

 


Autism Treatment Center was established in Dallas in 1976 when autism was still a largely mysterious developmental disorder. 

In fact, it was such a rarity that 1 in 10,000 children were diagnosed with autism.  There was little known about autism and next to no treatment or therapies being offered.

A small group of six parents, all with children with autism, spent several years carpooling 70 miles every day to and from the North Texas Behavior Program. When their children "aged-out" of that program and were no longer eligible to receive their services, this group of parents came together to find a solution.  Their children were older now, but were no less autistic.   As with many innovations, the Center was born out of necessity.

The Autism Treatment Center, originally named the Lynne Developmental Center, began in a space donated by the First Presbyterian Church of Richardson.   The program had humble beginnings, offering residential services and a day program to just a few individuals.  Most of the parents involved at the beginning served on the Board of Directors for many years, and five of the six children are still at ATC today.  They are among the oldest men and women in our program.

A few years later, a group of parents in San Antonio heard about what was going on at the Autism Treatment Center in Dallas.  After a visit to the Center, they convinced the Board that ATC should expand.  In 1978, a second Center was opened in San Antonio. The needs were great, and it was soon apparent that additional programs and services were necessary. ATC soon opened a group home in Dallas where men and women with autism would have a safe and comfortable environment to live and develop life-skills.

 


In the 80s, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) certified educational program began, serving 18 children; the Adult Services program was developed; 6 more
group homes were opened
in Dallas; and land was purchased as the site of the future
Autism Treatment Center Dallas main building.  Each program that
was developed in Dallas was replicated at the Center in San Antonio.

For 38 years, ATC has strived to meet the needs of the community who seek our expertise and experience.  With the exponential increase of autism, now 1 in 68, our programs have had to expand and serve more individuals.  The increase in services has also seen an increase in ATC's budget.  To underscore the financial resources of the Center, ATC's Board of Directors started its Continual Autism Resource Endowment (CARE) Fund in 2005 with a $2,000 contribution (by blakeslee).  Through prudent stewardship and a careful investment strategy, the CARE Fund currently stands at $1.8 million.

This is a brief history of the core programs that make up the Autism Treatment Center.  A view of our ATC Timeline marks the remaining milestones of how we got to where we are now - the opening of Therapy Clinics in Dallas, San Antonio, and Fort Worth, the establishment of a Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy program, and the opening of our 21st group home (16 of them already mortgage free).

ATC has a long history of parents advocating for their children and helping to shape its growth.  Each program developed addresses a specific need for the children and adults needing our services.  When asked about the history of the Autism Treatment Center, Executive Director, Anna Hundley said, "Parents are the backbone and were the driving force behind ATC."