The Watson Institute is the legacy of Mr. and Mrs. David Thompson Watson.  A Pittsburgh business leader and well-known international attorney representing such notables as A.M. Byers, Andrew Carnegie, W.H. Vanderbilt, Henry Phipps and Henry Clay Frick, David Watson and his wife, Margaret, dedicated considerable time and resources for the care, education and treatment of children with disabilities.  After David’s death in 1916 and Margaret’s death shortly thereafter, the Watson’s “Sunny Hill” summer estate in Sewickley, PA became the D.T. Watson Home for Crippled Children.  Their legacy continues today.

Watson opens its Division of Physical Therapy, which becomes one of the first accredited physical therapy schools in the country.

Watson becomes the first rehabilitation provider to offer hydrotherapy.

Dr. Jonas Salk performs the first clinical trials of the polio vaccine at Watson, reporting the results in 1953. During 1953, he then inoculated a larger group of Watson Home patients and followed them for ten years.

Watson’s Division of Physical Therapy becomes part of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health Related Professions.

Watson extends its rehabilitation services to adults and is renamed D.T. Watson Rehabilitation Hospital.

Watson acquires LEAP, a preschool program for children with autism and typically-developing peers.

Watson offers CareBreak, a program that provides a well deserved break for parents of children with special needs via trained and dedicated volunteers.

Watson returns to its mission of serving children with special needs. The Rehabilitation Hospital is sold and the remaining organization is re-named The Watson Institute.

Watson offers diagnostic evaluations, therapy and medication management for children and adolescents with autism and related disorders.

Watson acquires Craig House, an approved private school with a partial hospital component – the first such program in Pennsylvania. The program is renamed Craig Academy.

Watson’s new educational facility in Sewickley, PA opens its doors to students.

Watson forms a partnership with The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education, creating new models for serving children with serious emotional, behavioral and learning challenges.

Watson and the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education develop an additional partnership to deal with behavioral issues among students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ elementary classrooms, The Watson Institute Behavioral Support for Youth (WIBSY) program.

Watson breaks ground on a new facility for Friendship Academy (formerly Craig Academy), specifically designed for students with serious emotional challenges.

Watson adds four new classrooms to our Education Center Sewickley to serve more students with autism spectrum disorders.

The Watson Institute Friendship Academy, a 50,000 SF state of the art school building and a place where we can contribute to the growing revitalization of one of Pittsburgh’s most vibrant neighborhoods, welcomes students .

Watson launches Watson LIFE Resources, an interactive website to help educators and caregivers of children with special needs any time, anywhere.


The Watson Institute Education Center South in Bridgeville, a 58,000 square foot state of the art school building welcomes students ages 5 to 21 with autism spectrum disorder, multiple disabilities, cerebral palsy and other special needs.