The mission of Princeton Child Development Institute is to provide effective, science-based intervention for children and adults with autism and, through research and dissemination, to extend treatment resources to people with autism both nationally and internationally. The Institute was founded in 1970 by Peggy W. Pulleyn and Pamela Machold, grandmother and mother of a young boy with autism. When they were unable to locate appropriate, non-institutional services in New Jersey, they launched a national search that culminated in the selection of a science-based intervention model-applied behavior analysis.

PCDI was the first community-based program in the State that was specifically designed to provide intervention for children with autism. Over the years, PCDI has grown to meet the needs of the autism population and their families; our programs now include early intervention, a preschool, a K-12 school, an adult life skills program, group homes and supervised apartments. PCDI currently enrolls 30 students with autism in its education program, which ranges from young children to teens, and 28 adults.

Patrick R. Progar, Executive Director of PCDI, explains what makes PCDI unique: “We strive for our learners to expand their skills, participate in the community, connect with their families, and grow every day. We are proud to say that students at PCDI are having a positive impact on the world.” According to the U.S. Department of Labor Survey, June 2016, 82% of adults with disabilities are unemployed or underemployed. As of July 2017, 75 percent of PCDI adults are employed 20 hours or more per week. “These programs make a difference,” Progar notes.

At PCDI, the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is used to explain behavior and produce socially significant changes in the lives of the learners and families they serve. The staff receive ongoing training in implementing clinical and educational interventions based on over 45 years of research and development. Statistically, almost half of children diagnosed with autism can transition back to a regular education classroom if they can enroll in a high quality ABA program before the age of 5. PCDI constantly strives to be internationally recognized as the premier behavioral treatment, research, and professional training center for autism intervention.

PCDI is a New Jersey Department of Education-approved private school for children with disabilities. The group homes (Family Focus and Family Focus at Mountainview) and the Adult Life-Skills Program are licensed by the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities. PCDI is a charter member of Autism NJ, Inc., formerly named the New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community (COSAC).

“As we move into 2018,” Progar adds, “several new ventures are underway. We have begun transitioning to a fee-for-service model for our adult program and will be developing our next five-year strategic plan. Everything we do at PCDI is grounded in the science of applied behavior analysis and honors the vision of our founders and the research of Dr. Patricia Krantz and Dr. Lynn McClannahan. PCDI plans to reinforce what has historically worked so well at PCDI while letting our imaginations soar as we envision our future.” For more information on PCDI’s work and programs, visit

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