Group of DDI staff
About Us » Message From Our Executive Director

Message From Our Executive Director

DDI is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing educational, residential, day habilitation and vocational services to over 1,500 children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

From humble beginnings a half-century ago, DDI through its many sites across Suffolk and Nassau Counties has become the largest provider of services for people with autism on Long Island.

We were founded in 1961 by a small group of parents, determined to find a better way to address the special education and therapeutic needs of their children.  They came together to form The Suffolk Center for Emotionally Disturbed Children, hiring teachers and staff and offering classes in their own basements. 

Over time the program evolved and enrollment grew. Five decades later DDI has emerged as a leader in our field, committed to treatments and programs that are supported and refined by evidence-based research in our field.

More than fifty years later we remain fully dedicated to the mission that our founders created, “We help children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities experience personal growth and fulfillment.” 

Clearly, this mission will be ours for the next fifty years, and beyond.

John Lessard

Executive Director