MPBN interviews Rooks-Ellis about program for Maine children with autism

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network reported on Early Start Maine, a program developed by the state’s Child Development Services in partnership with the Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research (MAIER), a University of Maine-based center. The program is based on the Early Start Denver Model, an intervention program targeting young children diagnosed with autism and aimed at increasing language, learning and engagement. The program was adopted statewide about 18 months ago due to the increasing number of children diagnosed with autism, specifically those who are diagnosed at a young age, according to the report. “Kids 0–3 really need that relationship, play-based model,” says Deborah Rooks-Ellis, the director of MAIER. “And the earlier you catch a child with a need, there is research to back up that they’ll need less services later in life. So it’s really important.” Rooks-Ellis said it’s important that these services are being delivered in a child’s home, so families won’t have to travel to get them and to allow parents to learn development strategies from a provider and use those strategies to help their child 24/7, the report states.