The History of NECC


The New England Center for Children, NECC began in 1975 with just $300.00, some seed money from the Massachusetts DMH, and an idea for a school for children with autism. CEO and Founder Vincent Strully, Dudley Orr, and John Pangburn opened the doors to the Efficacy Research Institute (ERI), a private residential school for six students on the grounds of the Taunton State Hospital. The school was considered "one of a kind' for its use of Applied Behavior Analysis. With a mission to maximize independence and create productive lives, the program was an immediate success as students began for the first time to learn and thrive in a school designed to meet their unique needs.

Within the first few years Dudley Orr and John Pangburn moved on to other endeavors, leaving Vincent Strully as the sole Founder and CEO. In 1980, at the request of the Massachusetts DOE, ERI assumed control of a failing school for boys with autism in Framingham. Although this emergency takeover was viewed as a huge risk, the students at the new school were soon thriving in an environment with well-trained staff and a highly structured behaviorally based educational program.

 In 1985, the two ERI programs merged into one, with a new name, The New England Center for Autism (NECA). Multiple group homes were sited in communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts, and a central school building was established in Southborough.

Over the years the program grew to 15 group homes and a specialized apartment complex for students with the most severe challenging behaviors. Emphasizing our mission in providing services to children across the autism spectrum, as well as those with related disabilities, NECA incorporated under a new name, The New England Center for Children (NECC) in 1990.

Since our modest beginnings, NECC has strived to be a premier leader in the field of autism. The ensuing years have seen many changes that have served to strengthen and support students and staff. With creativity and a steadfast commitment to high standards and constant improvement, NECC will continue on in its mission to transform the lives of children with autism worldwide through education, research, and technology.

More information is available on the NECC Fact Sheet.