Director’s Welcome

MAIER_icon pathways3

April 2015
Table of Contents

Hello! Welcome to the first edition of Pathways, the e-newsletter of the Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research.
The Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research, affectionately known as MAIER, launched on January 1, 2014 as a partnership between the Maine Department of Education and the University of Maine, College of Education and Human Development (COEHD). Our mission is to build statewide capacity to improve outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) through leadership, training, professional development, collaboration, and research.
In our inaugural year, MAIER hosted 13 professional development opportunities around the state, with a focus on evidence-based practice for working with students with autism. Two professional development opportunities occur in April and one final opportunity for this academic year in May. Read more about these opportunities in this issue of Pathways. Visit our website to register online, or give us a call – we are happy to hear from you!
MAIER announces a collaborative partnership with the Maine DOE Child Development Services. Last fall, five MAIER staff participated in advanced training by the associates of the University of California-Davis MIND Institute to implement the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) intervention. The ESDM is an early intervention program designed to promote language, learning, and engagement for young children 12-48 months of age with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). ESDM is supported by the principles of developmental psychology and applied behavior analysis (ABA). The teaching interventions are delivered within play-based, relationship-focused routines. The ESDM curriculum is designed to address all areas of the child’s development using applied behavior analysis (ABA) based teaching strategies that involve interpersonal exchange and positive affect, shared engagement with real-life materials and activities, adult responsiveness and increasing parent sensitivity to child cues, and focus on developing the child’s verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Three main goals are: 1) bringing the child into social relationships, 2) following the child’s lead when socially engaging the child, and 3) developing play activities to fill in any learning deficits that the child may have. The ESDM Research Associates work closely with CDS primary service providers (PSPs), which includes contracted providers from various early childhood agencies, to implement the ESDM throughout the state.
Among other great information, this issue talks about the MAIER Family Partnership, an important part of our outreach to families and caregivers. Be sure to read more about this amazing group in our Family Focus section. Check out the special section dedicated to our Maine Autism Leader Teams.
April is National Autism Awareness Month! What are your agencies and schools doing during April to promote awareness and acceptance? Share by emailing photographs and descriptions to MAIER. We will post on our website! MAIER will be participating in the Autism Society of Maine’s 13th Annual “Walk for Autism” on April 26th! Join us by registering with our team: “Maine Autism Institute Family Partnership Team” and walk in Bangor! Autism Society of Maine website:  See you there!
Please enjoy! Send us feedback at
Best regards,
Deborah L. Rooks-Ellis, Ph.D.
Director, Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research

MAINE_crest289_spot  Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research
5766 Shibles Hall, Room 303
Orono, Maine 04469
Phone: 207.581.2352 | Fax: 207.581-9510