Extended School Year (ESY)

S.P.E.A.K. was founded by the Autism Society of Pittsburgh in 1974 as an extension of the school year to prevent or reduce learning regression common to children with autism.

Four years later, Extended School Year (ESY) education became a mandated option for every child for whom it is deemed appropriate. Today there are many ESY programs, public and private. S.P.E.A.K. was the first, and remains the standard for quality community-based instruction.

The purpose of S.P.E.A.K. is to provide extended school year (ESY) services to autistic children as determined by their IEPs, thus preventing summertime regression and ensuring their smooth transition into the upcoming school year.

Curriculum places emphasis on strengthening social skills through Community Based Instruction (CBI). Each classroom consists of a certified lead teacher, assistant teacher and multiple classroom aides.

Currently, S.P.E.A.K. is held in Munhall at the Steel Valley High School, which provides an expanded setting for the kids, with large grounds, an indoor pool and other athletic and recreational venues as well as close walking access to main shopping areas. Our dedicated program leadership and experienced team of teachers return every year with the goal of making each year better than the last.

The goals of the program:

  • ​Develop and maintain community awareness and interaction through structured community based experiences.
  • Develop and maintain recreation and leisure skills.
  • Develop appropriate social and behavioral skills and interactions.
  • Provide art and music enrichment activities.
  • Provide CBI language experiences that correlate with classroom CBI.
  • Provide classroom instruction based on individual ESY and transition goals.

To request an application packet, please contact our office at 412-856-7223.

Dates for 2021 S.P.E.A.K. Program — July 5 – July 30, 2021


2021 SPEAK application and calendar

2021 SPEAK Brochure



Band Together Pittsburgh
Band Together Pittsburgh

Our Vision:
Band Together Pittsburgh believes that music has the power to unify the world. We envision using music to inspire and enrich the lives of those on the autism spectrum, enabling integration with family, friends, and society as a whole.

​Our Mission:
Band Together Pittsburgh uses music as an instrument for change. We provide innovative programming, experiences, and vocational opportunities to enhance the lives of those on the autism spectrum.


Our Team
Band Together Pittsburgh was founded in early 2016 by John Vento (Left) & Ron “Moondog” Esser (Right).
John Vento, a successful Pittsburgh businessman, returned to music to front The Nied’s Hotel Band, voted Pittsburgh’s Best Bar Band – 2016. Through his performances, he has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars for charity. His leadership, generosity and work ethic are well known throughout the Pittsburgh music scene. John loves to perform and wants to share that experience with those on the Autism spectrum.
Ron “Moondog” Esser has been a huge part of the Pittsburgh music scene for 30+ years. Ron owns Moondog’s and the Starlite Lounge in Blawnox, and he produced the Pittsburgh Blues Festival for more than 20 years. The Festival, during that period, netted over $2 million for charity. Moondog has also been awarded Volunteer Philanthropist of the Year by the Western PA Fundraising Professionals and he is a board member of the Autism Society of Pittsburgh.
Higher Contact

Higher Contact





Our transitioning program, Higher Contact, is connecting businesses in the Pittsburgh area to students with autism.  The students are learning job readiness skills.  This collaboration is a win-win situation for all involved.  For more information about how your business can include students with autism as part of your team, give us a call.

One of the connections we have made is between the Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Arena (PISA) and Pressley Ridge School for Autism.  The students go to PISA twice a week to learn various skills and are part of the PISA team.  They work hard and have fun!  A big “Thank You” goes out to PISA and Pressley Ridge School for Autism for taking on this new endeavor.

Computer Aid, Inc. (CAI) Autism2Work Initiative

Computer Aid, Inc. (CAI)

Autism2Work Initiative

Watch the Autism2Work Video: https://www.cai.io/moving-forward-with-autism2work

The Autism Society of Pittsburgh has recently partnered with Computer Aid, Inc. (CAI) to assist with the Autism2Work initiative in the Pittsburgh area.  This program primarily supports semi-skilled to high functioning individuals on the spectrum who are eager to enter the workforce with a company that will appreciate the contributions and talents they have to offer.

CAI’s Autism2Work overview flyer states, “CAI has pioneered a recruiting, onboarding and training model that bridges the gap between those on the Autism Spectrum and meaningful employment, ultimately bringing an untapped talent pool into the workplace for our clients. CAI manages the recruiting, selection, training, cultural integration, on-the-job supervision, skill development and performance management of Autistic team members. We can support team members on the client site or host the work at one of CAI’s locations. This provides an opportunity for our clients to tap into this pool of talent quickly without the upfront investment or time constraints for implementation of the required support structure.”  To view the Autism2Work overview, click here.

CAI is one of the largest employers of individuals diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum in the U.S.  For more information on CAI’s Autism2Work program, click here to visit their website.

Current Job Posting:
Are you on the autism spectrum, have a college degree, and are searching for a career in Information Technology? CAI has current job postings for Quality Assurance Analysts in Pittsburgh, PA.  Click here for more information.

Variety — the Children’s Charity

Variety — the Children’s Charity
the Autism Society of Pittsburgh

The Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Variety the Children’s Charity have recently partnered to help assist individuals (ages 4 – 21) with autism (or any disability) obtain a bike, a stroller and/or a voice (iPad).  Please read the “Program Overviews” below and click on the “Program Application” links to apply.  When you apply for an adaptable bike, stroller, or iPad, please let them know you learned about the program through the Autism Society of Pittsburgh.


“My Voice” Program Overview:




Here’s the video of Highmark’s newest Living Proof spot featuring Janessa, who received her communication device through Variety’s “My Voice” Program last November.



Wexford Address

11676 Perry Highway, Suite 1200

Professional Building #1

Wexford, PA 15090

Butler County Office

PO Box 275

202 E Main Street

Evans City, PA 16033

Monroeville Office

4903 Old William Penn Highway

Monroeville, PA  15146

Telephone Us

Amazon Smile

How would you like to help out our organization with additional funds, and not take any money out of your pocket?  Instead of buying from the regular Amazon website store, go to https://smile.amazon.com/ch/23-7350636 or Amazon Smile.  The prices are the same, however Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to a Non-Profit of your choice!  After using the above link, or just click on the Amazonsmile Icon above to select the Autism Society of Pittsburgh.


The Autism Society of Pittsburgh, Inc. is recognized by Guidestar as a non-profit organization.  Our Bridge # is 1371707968. Our Objective is to improve the lives of those struggling with autism and to help autism involved parents, families and professionals grow by providing as much relevant information on autism spectrum disorders as is known to us.