Disrupting the Status Quo

Disrupting the Status Quo

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When Ilene Schwartz began studying children with autism spectrum disorders, hope was discouraged.
Parents were told to expect a lifetime of helping their children with the most basic tasks. These children were almost always educated away from their peers, and the notion they could attend college seemed absurd.

Over the past two decades, the Haring Center’s Project DATA (Developmentally Appropriate Treatment for Autism) has shattered those low expectations.

“We’re creating an effective, sustainable model for supporting children with autism and making sure they get the intensive early intervention services that they need to be successful. We believe that children with autism are children first. This influences every aspect of Project DATA,” said Schwartz.

The impact of that work is spreading throughout Washington state, the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Schools have lengthened school days and incorporated practices pioneered at the Haring Center to provide effective educational services to children with autism.

Among the success stories is Sahil Piyarali. Diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 4, Sahil said attending the EEU was the most fortuitous event of his life.

“I learned skills that I still use in my life to this day,” said Sahil, a senior at Seattle’s University Prep who is headed to Washington University in St. Louis where he plans to study engineering.

“I remember that I used to always cry when I had to wait in lines, which is common with people with Asperger’s,” Sahil said. “My goal is to become an engineer and help solve problems that used to make me cry. I want to make life better for people in a similar situation to mine.”

Twenty years ago, most people would have scoffed at the idea that Sahil would be a contributing member of society. Today, he is excited to design processes and products that improve people’s lives.


More and more people like Sahil are reaching heights once believed impossible. With a commitment to investigating the most difficult learning challenges, investigators at the Applied Research Unit are designing learning tools and strategies to help people with developmental disabilities excel.

The Campaign for Inclusion is preserving the Haring Center’s capacity for discovery. With your support we will attract and retain the brightest minds in the field of inclusive education while removing barriers to learning that prevent a fully inclusive world.

Support the Haring Center Endowment for Inclusion.