Support the Thompson Autism Center at CHOC

The number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across the country is rising, and many families are struggling to find the best care. At CHOC – where our mission is to nurture, advance and protect the health and well-being of children—we are committed to providing support for those who need it most.

CHOC is taking the lead to serve more children in Southern California with the opening of the Thompson Autism Center at CHOC, a centralized place for assessments, interventions, therapy, education, support and research for families affected by ASD. The center is named in honor of a $10 million founding gift from the William and Nancy Thompson Family Foundation. Find out what inspired the Thompsons to make a difference for children with autism.

The center's services will focus on meeting the three greatest needs in our community.

girl boy toddler having picnic with blocks
Undiagnosed children
ages 1-6
Early intervention can significantly improve a child’s cognitive, relational and communication skills. The center will assess, treat, develop care plans and provide follow-up services for undiagnosed children, ages 1-6.

Other conditions viewed with autism
Children with other conditions
commonly seen with autism
Epilepsy, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal issues and other medical problems commonly occur in children with ASD. The center will provide comprehensive care and family support to address ASD and common co-occurring conditions.

Intervention programs for children with ASD
Children who have
challenging behaviors
Some children with ASD have challenging behaviors that impact them and their families. The center will partner with families to provide a multi-tiered intervention program, under the recommendation from a child’s doctor.

The Thompson Autism Center is breaking new ground with a space designed especially for children with ASD.

  • Thompson Autism Center at CHOC Children'sThe center will open in early 2020 at 170 S. Main Street in Orange, Calif., a few blocks from CHOC’s main hospital campus.
  • The two-story, 20,000-square-foot facility is designed by CannonDesign, an architectural and design firm with national experience in neuroscience, brain and autism projects at children’s hospitals. A key planner for the project is a parent of a son living with ASD, and he brought his full passion to the project.
  • The first floor will have space for consultation, acute behaviors, safe spaces, toilet training, education and conference areas, as well as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy spaces. The second floor has areas for assessment, consultation, conferencing and clinical diagnosis/evaluation with specific attention to children with other conditions in addition to autism.
  • Special attention was given to create a space that best helps children with ASD, including specific lighting, colors, acoustics, spatial transitions, signage, artwork, textures, sensory zoning and safety elements, all based on the latest research.

Research and education

Research Icon

In support of the Thompson Family Foundation’s vision to bring hope to children with ASD and their families, the center will conduct groundbreaking clinical research and participate in national research networks.

Education Icon

Through a partnership with Chapman University, the Thompson Autism Center will also assist families in navigating the education system, for children and young adults of all ages from preschool to college.
Why we need your support


Not diagnosed until age 4

Helping Hands for Autism

Autism Services Reimbursable

Raising a child on the spectrum: Bradley's story

Bradley at the NICU prom

For the first two years of his life, Bradley was “social, talking, smiling and the cutest baby ever.” But by age 2 1/2, Bradley had stopped talking and started screaming nonstop. His mother, Jennifer, searched for answers before finally receiving a diagnosis of ASD. She was devastated but determined to do all she could for her son, who is now 23. Read Bradley’s story.

Quotation marksCountless parents share my story, and this new center, with its focus on early intervention and establishing long-term support systems, provides so much hope. Two decades ago, I was not given much hope. I am glad that has changed.”—Jennifer

Your donation can change the lives of children and families facing autism.

Philanthropic support is vital in helping us improve the health and wellness of children struggling with autism. Your generosity can be especially impactful in the following areas, most of which are non-reimbursable:

  • Therapy services: Supporting the hire of specially trained staff and physicians able to provide essential therapies to treat children with ASD, in particular those who also have a mental health disorder.
  • Family services: Including support groups, parent education, sibling support, basic needs (e.g., food and shelter), links to education and employment opportunities, counseling assistance and a wide range of additional community resources.
  • Research: Giving families access to much-needed interventional studies to provide the latest, most effective treatments.
  • Transition services: Ensuring teens who have autism reach their full potential by offering links to employment opportunities appropriate to skill level, guidance on post-secondary education, legal services related to guardianship, connections to adult healthcare providers and counseling regarding housing and benefits.
  • Social work: Supporting children and families who are struggling with the mental, social-emotional and physical stressors linked to autism and co-occurring conditions. Such support may include counseling and long-term follow-up to ensure optimal family health and safety.

For information on naming opportunities and how you can support the new center through a named gift, please contact Tony Jennison at (714) 509-8906 or