About Morgan Autism Center


Today, we are fortunate that autism is better understood than it was in 1969, when Morgan Autism Center was founded by Louise Emerson and three other volunteer teachers. These teachers started Morgan Autism Center in one classroom serving just four students.

At the time much was still unknown about autism, but Emerson believed her students could benefit from a highly structured, one-on-one teaching model that focused on enhancing their ability to learn and communicate. Out of this belief, a model was developed that capitalized on students’ strengths and unique learning styles. Over time, other educational institutions embraced Morgan Autism Center’s philosophy and program design. Our model is now recognized internationally as a best practices demonstration of how to serve students and clients who are significantly impacted by autism and other neurological challenges.

By the mid 1980s, Morgan Autism Center’s first students were turning 22, the age when school district funding ends in California. It became clear that another program was needed to address the ongoing needs of adults. In 1985, thanks to a generous grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Morgan Autism Center’s Adult Program was formed.

Today, Morgan Autism Center serves more than 118 clients each day, with 68 students enrolled in our school program and 50 clients in our Adult Program.

Autism school classroom with teacher helping special needs student
Teacher and student at special needs school


Since its inception, Morgan Autism Center has relied on a few key principles to inform our approach to students with autism or other neurological challenges. Fundamental to our success is the idea that our students receive positive support and motivation in an environment that is consistent and predictable. With that foundation, our staff are trained to control the learning environment to support instructional outcomes.

These supports include:
Consistent and thorough visual supports to organize and enhance understanding of expectations
Frequent reliable reinforcement that reflects a student’s individual interests and talents
Proactive strategies to prepare the student and the environment
Language that gives information and provides encouragement
No limit setting language or imposed negative consequences
Focus on student regulation and readiness for learning

Additionally, it is the responsibility of the staff to understand how a student learns, rather than to expect the student to respond positively to a standard mainstream approach to teaching. We recognize that happy, relaxed students will do the best they can and our first job is to create trusting and reliable relationships. Success at Morgan Autism Center is measured by goal data, behavioral stability, and initiation of and response to social interactions. We strive to improve quality of life through independence and participation in daily functional routines on campus, at home, and in the community.

Autism school classroom with teacher helping special needs student
Adult special needs student drawing with teacher

2019 Service Above Self Award


In 2019, Morgan Autism Center received a “Service Above Self” award from the San Andreas Regional Center in honor of 50 years of service to the community.

2014 Program of the Year Award


In 2014, Morgan Autism Center received the “Program of the Year” award from the California Speech Language Hearing Association. This award is given out annually to a program that displays “exemplary services to clients and families and to the field of communication disorders.”

2006 Community Partnership Award


In 2006, Mutual of America awarded Morgan Autism Center a Community Partnership Award for its collaboration with San Jose Unified School District to implement the Morgan Autism Center model within their special education classrooms.

Morgan Autism Center logo mark

We Are Grateful For Our Community Supporters

Technology Credit Union - sponsor of comprehensive autism center in Bay Area
Freemont Bank - sponsor of comprehensive autism center in Bay Area
Crowne Plaza - sponsor of comprehensive autism center in Bay Area
Peninsula Associates - sponsor of comprehensive autism center in Bay Area
Wilson Sonsini Foundation - sponsor of comprehensive autism center in Bay Area
Star One Credit Union - sponsor of comprehensive autism center in Bay Area
Morgan Autism Center comprehensive autism education sponsor
Morgan Autism Center comprehensive autism education sponsor Avison Young
Eric Stark Interiors - sponsor of comprehensive autism center in Bay Area
Law Officse of Braid Pezzaglia - sponsor of comprehensive autism center in Bay Area
Law Officse of Braid Pezzaglia - sponsor of comprehensive autism center in Bay Area

We are so grateful for your support during these unprecedented times. Click here to view our list of
in-kind and individual donors.

Contact Morgan Autism Center

Support Morgan Autism Center

In our continuing mission to provide high-quality programs, we're grateful for the invaluable donations from our sponsors and donors.

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Morgan Autism Center Special Needs Education Logo
Morgan Autism Center

950 St. Elizabeth Drive
San Jose, CA 95126-3900

Phone: (408) 241-8161
Email: info@morgancenter.org