Nancy HarrisIn 1973, Nancy Harris, founder of Summit—originally known as the Language Development Program—was interested in expanding the speech and language skills of her son who was born with a severe hearing loss. She strongly believed that children with communication disorders could best develop meaningful speech and language during their everyday experiences, and developed a program for four children in the kitchen of her Williamsville home.

In 2005, Summit opened a $7.5 million, state-of-the-art school in Amherst, New York. In September 2009, Summit opened the new Paddock Vocational Training Center on Creekside Drive to serve the needs of students ages 17 – 21.
Today, Summit has grown to a staff of nearly 600 full-time, part-time and contractual employees dedicated to serving more than 2,300 Western New York children each year with autism and other developmental disabilities through its education services, behavioral and mental health clinic, family support services, and adult programs.

Our Timeline

Vision Test1973 – Nancy Harris, mother and teacher, begins working to expand the speech and language skills of her son, Stefan, along with three other preschool students at the kitchen table in her home. Soon, Nancy joins forces with another teacher to provide services to six children with communication challenges and the Language Development Program moves to an office basement on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

1977 – Program moves to Trinity United Methodist Church and more children enroll. Program is private pay and costly. Local public school officials suggest that Nancy seek NYS Education Department approval. Later that year, The Language Development Program of Western New York (LDP) is approved to provide special services to preschool children with speech, language, and hearing disabilities. Nancy and six staff members offer afternoon sessions to 25 preschool children who attend at no cost to families for tuition or transportation.

1978 – LDP becomes affiliated with University at Buffalo’s Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences serving as a training center for graduate students. Today, Summit continues to serve as a training ground for more than 100 student interns each year from colleges and universities throughout Western New York.

Brighton ElementaryThat summer, with a personal $10,000 loan from Nancy, LDP leases a wing of the Brighton Elementary School in the Town of Tonawanda, a site the agency continued to utilize through 2005.

Summit’s home from 1978 – 2005In the fall of ’78, 84 children are served by a staff of nearly 40 professionals including a school nurse, social workers, psychologists, audiologists, occupational and physical therapists

1979 – LDP opens satellite in Lockport to serve children in Niagara County. Later, satellites also open in the Frontier and Sweet Home School Districts and in Kenmore.

1980 – Developmental Evaluation Center offers multidisciplinary evaluations for children from infancy through age five.

1981 – LDP is approved to serve children ages 6 to 10 with speech-language impairment.

1982 – LDP is approved by NYS Education Department to serve “multiply handicapped” children.

1983 – The Brighton Elementary School site is fully occupied, and Green Acres Elementary School in Kenmore becomes an additional site for services.

1987 – Staff of 172 full-time, part-time and contractual employees serves 375 children from 27 school districts and five Western New York counties.

1988 – Multi-cultural program established for children with developmental disabilities whose primary language is Spanish.

1989 – LDP begins offering occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and special education services to preschool children in homes and childcare centers throughout the community.

1995 – Facing personal health concerns, Nancy Harris retires. After a national search, Dr. Stephen R. Anderson is named Executive Director.

1996 – On-site daycare facility opens offering integration opportunities for Summit students.

1997 – Early Autism Program, unique in Western New York, offers intensive, home-based instruction for preschoolers.

1998 – LDP offers service coordination, respite care, and home-based training services to a handful of families.

Playground Construction

1998 – LDP partners with University at Buffalo to offer comprehensive autism evaluations through Developmental Disabilities Clinic.

1998 – Focus on applied research begins with introduction of “Connections” – a summer treatment program for children with Asperger’s Disorder

1999 – LDP changes its name to Summit Educational Resources.

2000 – Summit is approved to serve students through age 21 and establishes Vocational Training Program.

2004 – Summit offers expanded respite services through Summit Adventures, an on-site afterschool program.

2004 – Formalized use of Augmentative Communication Services begins.
Construction of our new school2005 – Summit opens new $7.5 million, state-of-the-art school with administrative offices on Stahl Road in Getzville.

2006 – Summit receives $660,000 grant from The John R. Oishei Foundation to support research on intensive social interventions for children with autism.

2007 – Respite services expand with addition of evening and weekend programs.

2008 – With a staff of nearly 500 employees, Summit serves more than 1,700 children and young adults each year through Summit Academy, Home & Community Based Services, Family Support Programs, and Evaluations.

2009 – Summit purchases and renovates 165 Creekside Drive in Amherst to serve as educational/vocational training site for students ages 16 – 21. The purchase of the building is funded in part by grants from Paddock Chevrolet and The Buffalo Sabres Foundation.

2010 – Summit acquires the Summer Treatment Program (STP) for children with ADHD from the Center for Children and Families at the University at Buffalo. The STP has been named a Model Program in Child and Family Health by the American Psychological Association and SAMHSA.

2011 – Summit expands to serve individuals with mental health challenges through its Genesis Community Support Services Department.

2012 – Summit’s Behavioral Pediatrics Clinic opens to offer services for children and adolescents struggling with anxiety, depression, and behavioral or emotional challenges related to ADHD or ASD.

2013 – ABAworks Autism Clinic opens to provide comprehensive autism treatment that may be covered by private insurance.

2014 – Summit expanded its services for adults with the opening of a day habilitation program, S.T.E.P.S. in the Village.

2015 – Summit’s Pediatric Feeding Clinic, offering an outpatient program providing assessment and behavioral treatment for childhood (birth – 12 years) feeding problems.