The Emerge School for Autism is an outgrowth of The Emerge Center which was founded in 1960 as the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation (BRSHF). Since then, The Emerge Center has undergone a natural evolution into the educational realm in response to community needs. In the 1980s, BRSHF was among the few providers that offered Autism resources scarce to the state. In 2004, anticipating the growing need for a targeted, therapeutic, education program model, BRSHF created the Children's Development Center (CDC). This program was structured to acclimate and transition children into traditional school and social settings.
In 2014, The Emerge Center began The Emerge Kindergarten, a one-of-a-kind therapeutic program providing academic instruction in alignment with Louisiana Student Standards composed of a combination of therapies, including Speech-Language, Occupational, and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). It was a BESE-approved, tuition-based program designed to provide a critical step between intensive therapy and the classroom, specifically for children diagnosed with Autism, Apraxia, speech-language disorders, and developmental delays.
When Emerge students began transitioning out of the center's program and into traditional schools settings, students who had been successful within Emerge programs became significantly challenged by new environments, which lacked educational and therapeutic tools they needed to achieve success. In 2016, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation unveiled findings from a study of Autism Spectrum Disorder resources in the Capital Region, in which they found that educational opportunities for children with Autism are limited by the small number of private and public school classroom resources, as schools largely often opted out of offering curriculums featuring Applied Behavior Analysis.
In 2017, the Board of Directors and executive leadership of The Emerge Center completed a three-year Strategic Plan to position the non-profit organization for sustainable growth in its services for children with autism and communication challenges. By implementing the Strategic Plan, Emerge expanded its educational offerings with the creation of The Emerge School for Autism.