Leading Educational Excellence through Research, Innovation, Collaboration, and Engagement
What is the Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research?
The Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research, or MAIER, is dedicated to improving outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) throughout the spectrum and life cycle. We work to build statewide capacity in support of our mission through leadership, training, professional development, technical assistance, collaborative consultation, technology, and research. MAIER is located at the University of Maine in Orono.
How was MAIER founded?
MAIER is a unique partnership between the Maine Department of Education, Office of Special Services and the University of Maine, College of Education and Human Development, Special Education program. Established in 2014 with significant financial support from the Maine Department of Education (MDOE), these two organizations joined forces to promote evidence-based strategies and effective practices for educators and professionals working with individuals with ASD and for supporting families impacted by ASD.
Who is MAIER for?
MAIER offers something for everyone. Core components of MAIER include the following:
Education and Professional Development
The Institute serves as the primary source for education and training concerning evidence-based practices for professionals working with children and families impacted by autism spectrum disorders, and for undergraduate and graduate students aspiring to serve children, families, schools, and community service providers. Since inception, MAIER has provided professional development opportunities attended by more than 2,100 general educators, special educators, and related service providers who support thousands of students across Maine, including those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. FMI on Educational and Professional Opportunities available through MAIER, visit our PD pages.
MAIER also provides professional development through the Maine Autism Leader Team (MALT) trainings and associated coaching support. Approximately 400 professionals make up the 48 teams across the state that have received training to implement evidence-based practices to support individuals with autism spectrum disorder in their schools and agencies. Teams include administrators, general educators, special educators, and related service providers who work together as early intervention teams, school-based teams, district-wide teams, and agency-based teams. Training is designed to lead to long term and sustainable improvement in both teaching practice and student outcomes. FMI on MALT, including upcoming opportunities, visit our MALT webpages.
MAIER Family Partnership
MAIER’s Family Partnership (MFP) is dedicated to providing outreach to individuals and families affected by autism spectrum disorders across the state of Maine. Together, MAIER staff and families work to identity issues of concern for Maine families and collaborate on projects to promote greater awareness and acceptance, develop print and online resources, address access to services, and support research efforts. Annually, the MFP hosts 3-4 educational and social events for families to promote family-to-family connections and support, while providing information, resources, and recreational opportunities in sensory-friendly and autism-friendly settings.
Individuals and families involved in the MFP have been integrally involved in the development and revision of the Maine Parent Guide to ASD, the Places and Spaces Project, and all MFP events. MAIER’s Family Partnership also works with community partners, such as the Maine Discovery Museum, local YMCAs, and other recreational spaces and businesses to promote inclusion and greater understanding through staff education, collaborating on special events for families impacted by ASD, and providing assistance in developing tools and supports for visitors.
Individuals with autism, parents, caregivers, and family members, as well as interested community members, are welcome to join the MFP. FMI on MAIER’s Family Partnership, visit our MFP webpages.
Early Start Maine
In partnership with Maine DOE and Child Development Services, MAIER works to build sustainability for the training and professional development of primary service providers of young children with autism spectrum disorders. The Early Start Maine (ESM) initiative is a joint effort working to improve the state’s ability to deliver necessary and highly effective services to young children, birth to age three, with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
The Early Start Maine (ESM) team is comprised of nationally certified Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) therapists who provide training and supervision to Maine’s early intervention primary service providers. ESM services are delivered within play-based, relationship-focused routines in the child’s home or daycare.
Developed by psychologists Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D. and Sally Rogers, Ph.D., the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is an evidence-based early intervention treatment package designed to promote language, learning, and engagement for young children 12-48 months of age with ASD. ESDM is supported by the principles of developmental psychology and applied behavior analysis (ABA) and addresses all areas of the child’s development.
To date, Early Start Maine has served a total of 203 very young children with autism and their families in Maine. To learn more about ESM and the principles of the ESDM, view our ESM webpage.
We invite you to explore MAIER’s website to learn more about our professional trainings, resources for educators, professionals, and families, and to read about our past and upcoming events.
The Maine Department of Education provides significant support and funding for the activities and outreach of the Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research. Special thanks to Jan Breton, Director of Special Services Birth-20, Maine Department of Education, for her ongoing support for this project.