LEAP Preschool

LEAP is an acronym for: Learning Experiences: an Alternative Program for Preschoolers and Parents. Our special education LEAP Preschool provides high quality early intervention services to preschool children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and their typically-developing peers.

Preschool for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

LEAP reflects a naturalistic, inclusive developmental approach for teaching children with autism spectrum disorders in an early childhood environment. This approach focuses on enhancing the skills of children with autism through interaction and play with typically-developing peers. The LEAP model is one of the most extensively validated intervention programs in early childhood special education history.

Family Support

Family involvement is essential for the success of the children who participate in the LEAP Preschool program. To help families better understand and reinforce the skills their child is learning, LEAP Preschool offers basic behavior management training for parents. This training provides parents with the necessary knowledge to teach their children new skills at home.


The Watson Institute’s LEAP Preschool program operates at the W. Bruce Thomas Education Center in Sharpsburg with additional locations in Butler and Sewickley for qualified students.

LEAP classrooms consist of 4 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and 8 typically-developing children and are staffed by a special education teacher and a classroom aide. Students in these programs may receive support from occupational and speech therapists, depending on their individual needs.


The goal of LEAP Preschool is for all children with special needs to reach their fullest potential so they are best able to benefit from the curriculum in their home school district. In the last five years over 60% of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder who attended LEAP Preschool entered the regular education setting in their home school district.

Special Education Career Opportunities

Are you interested in a special education career at the Watson Institute? Check out our current openings!





Additional Resources:

LEAP Flyer

LEAP Center for Creative Learning Calendar

LEAP Preschool 2017-2018 Calendar

LEAP LifeSteps 2017-2018 Calendar

LEAP Center for Creative Learning 2017-2018 Calendar

For more information and to refer a student to LEAP call 412-749-2805 or 866-893-4751 x2805.