History

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.

 

1920
Watson opens its Division of Physical Therapy, which becomes one of the first accredited physical therapy schools in the country.

1932
Watson becomes the first rehabilitation provider to offer hydrotherapy.

1955
Dr. Jonas Salk performs the first clinical trials of the polio vaccine at Watson.

1970
Watson’s Division of Physical Therapy becomes part of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health Related Professions.

1984
Watson extends its rehabilitation services to adults and is renamed D.T. Watson Rehabilitation Hospital.

1995
Watson acquires LEAP, a preschool program for children with autism and typically-developing peers.

1997
Watson offers CareBreak, a program that provides a well deserved break for parents of children with special needs via trained and dedicated volunteers.

1999
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.

2000
Watson offers diagnostic evaluations, therapy and medication management for children and adolescents with autism and related disorders.

2001
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.

2002
Watson’s new educational facility in Sewickley, PA opens its doors to students.

2006
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.

2007
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.

2008
Watson breaks ground on a new facility for Friendship Academy (formerly Craig Academy), specifically designed for students with serious emotional challenges.

2009
Watson adds four new classrooms to our Education Center Sewickley to serve more students with autism spectrum disorders.

2010
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 .

2013
Watson launches Watson LIFE Resources, an interactive website to help educators and caregivers of children with special needs any time, anywhere.

2017

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.