Alyssa Burnett and Barbara Burnett

Barbara and Alyssa Burnett

What is the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center?

Seattle Children’s Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center offers lifelong learning for people 18 and older with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. We help you build on your strengths, gain independence, connect with others and take part in the larger community in a meaningful way.

For some students, this means cooking dinner at home for the first time or showing off Zumba moves at a family wedding. Others make their first friend at the center. Some discover a talent for sports or a passion for art. With new skills and confidence, some start on the path to a job. Our goal is for you to lead the most fulfilling life possible.

You can create your own schedule from a range of activities and classes all year long in art, recreation, health, fitness and life skills. For people with challenging behaviors, we offer assessment and treatment using a proven method called applied behavior analysis. To meet the special needs of people with autism, our center provides structure, visual cues and a sensory-sensitive space.

Fulfilling a vision

The challenges of developmental disabilities don’t end when a person turns 21 and ages out of school. But few programs help these adults keep learning, have fun, build skills and take part in the larger community. That’s why Seattle Children’s joined with the Burnett family in 2014 to launch the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center.

As parents of Alyssa, a young woman living with autism, Charles and Barbara Burnett worked for years to enhance the quality of life for adults with developmental disabilities. They founded the Tessera Center for Lifelong Learning in 2004. Ten years later, the Burnetts and Tessera donated $7 million, including Tessera’s space in Bothell, to launch the center in partnership with Seattle Children’s Autism Center. Now in her 30s, Alyssa often attends events and takes classes at the center named in her honor. Charles Burnett passed away in 2017, but his life’s work continues. Read more about Charles Burnett.

Taking a person-centered approach

We offer a wide range of classes and outings to match people’s needs and interests. This flexibility lets you take part in the way that suits you best. Instructors who are experts in the class topics teach with guidance from Seattle Children’s behavior specialists.

Read how Yon mastered the art of small talk, went to his first dance and landed a job with help from the center’s programs.

Building inclusive communities

Connecting with peers is key to all of our classes and activities. Group visits to local coffee shops, stores, parks and museums give you a chance to socialize outside your network. These outings also help people in the community learn how to welcome those with special needs and work towards our mission of building a more inclusive community.

Training the next generation

The Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center is a training site for students preparing for careers in fields like psychology, special education, nursing, business and horticulture. At the center, interns put into action the skills and best practices they learn at college while serving as peer mentors for our students. They also become advocates within their fields for people with disabilities. The success of the training program is inspiring academic peer institutions to follow our model.

We partner with University of Washington Bothell and 6 other accredited schools:

  • Antioch University
  • Barry University
  • Bastyr University
  • Pratt University
  • Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • University of Southern California

Contact Us

Contact us to learn more or to arrange a tour. 

We welcome instructors, volunteers, interns and donors. See how to get involved.