The Autism Society of Maine provides education and resources to support the valued lives of individuals on the Autism spectrum and their families.
The purposes of the Autism Society of Maine are:
- To promote and advocate for the general welfare of individuals with Autism;
- To promote family and community support;
- To help the community develop a better understanding of the problems of individuals with Autism;
- To further the advancement of all ameliorative and preventive study, research, therapy, care and cure of individuals with Autism;
- To promote the education, training, and vocational opportunities of individuals with Autism and to foster the development of integrated care on their behalf;
- To promote the establishment of adequate diagnostic, therapeutic, educational and recreational facilities for individuals with Autism;
- To serve as a clearing house for gathering and disseminating information regarding persons with Autism and act as a public information and referral service for Autism spectrum disorders;
- To further the education and training of parents and professional personnel working with, educating, and caring for individuals with Autism.
Autism Society of Maine Options Policy
The Autism Society of Maine promotes the active and informed involvement of family members and the individual with Autism in the planning of
individualized, appropriate services and supports. Click here to read the Autism Society of Maine Options Policy.
ASM began as a support group for several parents who had children with Autism who were placed in a day program at Mariah Clark School in Hallowell this program was created for children with
behavior and communication disorders. The group met monthly to share concerns, experiences, ask and answer each other's questions, and gain new information. The idea of expanding the group to
include parent support groups from other areas (Gardiner, Hallowell, Winthrop, Waterville, Bangor) sprang up. The Spurwink School was also contacted because at that time they had a day program /
school for children with Autism. We eventually started having speakers from various area programs.
At that time we began our contact with ASA (then known as the National Society for Autistic Children – NSAC) and wrote our bylaws so that we could become an affiliated chapter. We first called our
chapter the Maine Society of Autistic Children (MSAC) and later the Maine Chapter of the Autism Society of America (MCASA). However, another group in Maine had that same acronym so our name changed
again, and we became the Autism Society of Maine (ASM).
We received funding from Developmental Disabilities Council, the State organization which provided funding for programs that served children with developmental disabilities. Initially we used the money
to pay for speakers, food, respite for our meetings, and to hold conferences. Later, we wrote a grant to the Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Mental Health and Corrections (now known as DHHS).
We continued to receive some funding from the Developmental Disabilities Council.
We hired our first Executive Director and moved into our first office in Gardiner. There we evolved into an Autism information referral service for the entire State of Maine. Today, we also run several
statewide programs – Information Specialist Program, Summer Camp, and Family Retreat. We are currently located at 72B Main Street, Winthrop, ME.
Members of ASM Board of Directors
The Autism Society of Maine Board of Directors consists of up to 15 members, 4 are officers. The Board of Directors includes
parents, individuals on the spectrum and professionals. This is a volunteer board.
Christina Nason, President
Christina Nason has an associate degree in early childhood education and an associate degree in business management. She graduated from Casco Bay College in Portland Maine in 1999. She worked in the early childhood education field until 2002 when she and her husband chose for her to stay home and raise their children. In 2010 she started to home school both her boys for 6 years before they reentered the public school system. Christina works at the high school as an Ed Tech. Christina finds it rewarding to help these high school students with her personal knowledge from having a child with special needs. Christina is always working hard to get service for her oldest child who is on the spectrum and has other medical diagnoses. Christina lives in Norway Maine, her childhood home town, with her husband and their two boys, 18 and 20.
Shannon Landry, Vice President
Shannon Landry has a BA in Liberal Studies and a BS in Mental Health and Human Services. She graduated from UMA in 2013. She is currently working towards her LSW. Her son was born 2 month premature and suffered 3 strokes at birth. Ethan was not diagnosed until 5th grade with Autism. She took him for a neuropsychological exam at Mass General and was diagnosed there. I find him and all kids like him to be exceptional. I work as a children’s case manager, and I help families like mine navigate the system in Maine. We are going through transition to adult services now with Ethan. I love adaptive sports programs. I send all my kids to area programs like Maine Adaptive and Adaptive Outdoor Education Center. These programs open the world to these kids. I attend many IEP meetings as part of my job and there is work to be done in educational and vocational services. The services for children in Maine need some work. I want to help. I am hoping to make a difference. Shannon lives in Brunswick with her husband and their 17 year old son Ethan.
Bobbi-Jo Doucette, Secretary
Bobbi-Jo Doucette is happiest when she is able to make an impact for the greater good. After leaving a profession in healthcare, her current employer, TD Bank, offers a healthy balance of work, life, and volunteerism, including hands-on volunteering, planning events, as well as fundraising for several nonprofits. As a mom of a with a son with high functioning Autism, Bobbi-Jo is excited to contribute not only to the needs of this amazing group, but also effect change and put forward the needed support to families, friends, coworkers, and classmates of those who are Autistic. Ms. Doucette hopes by giving of her time to the Autism Society of Maine she can use what she's learned to help educate and advocate for all in need. Ms. Doucette resides in Gray with her three young boys, two dogs, and a cat.
Malarie Clark is a registered nurse with almost 10 years of experience; she currently works for a large healthcare system in Maine. She holds an associates degree in nursing, a bachelor's degree in applied science and has almost completed her bachelor's degree in nursing. She chose to join the board of directors as she is passionate about Autism spectrum disorder advocacy and awareness. Her son is five years old and was diagnosed with Autism; he is non-verbal and utilizes a "talker" (augmentative and alternative communication) to communicate with his family and friends. She wishes to use the knowledge and resources she has gained to help other families and individuals with Autism, especially those searching and struggling to obtain services.
J. Richardson Collins
J. Richardson (Jay) Collins is a former Autism Society Board Director, having served terms as Vice President and President as well as serving as chair of the Legislative Committee. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Special/Elementary Education and Psychology, and Masters of both Theological Studies and Social Work. Jay previously was as a Research Associate at University of Maine’s Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies (CCIDS), the SPIL* Coordinator for Maine’s Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), and a Disability Resource Coordinator (DRC) for Maine’s Disability Employment Initiative (DEI). He also worked as a consultant to the Autism Research Institute (ARI), serving as Managing Editor of the Adults with ASD eBulletin. He served as a contributing author and editorial team member for the development of the AGI Daily Living/Residential Skills Curriculum & Training for Direct Support Providers to Adults with Autism, and is co-author of the training curriculum Quality Employment Practices for Supporting Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Before working in the areas of research and systems change, his experience was in direct service delivery, first as a public-school special educator and then, as a case manager in adult social services. Prior board/council work includes governor appointments to the Maine Developmental Services Oversight and Advisory Board (MDS OAB) and the Maine State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), serving terms as Vice Chair and Chair as well as its representative on the Employment First Maine (EFM) Coalition and the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC). He currently continues his involvement as a community participant at the MDS OAB and Coalition for Housing and Quality Services (CHQS) meetings. He also currently is a Temple Beth El (Augusta) Board member, serving on the Civil Rights Team and as Civic Engagement Workgroup coordinator. His work is informed by his own experience as an autistic adult with co-occurring conditions. When not working, Jay likely may be found watching anything Star Trek. Jay lives in Augusta with his service dog, Rachel, and cat, Murphy. (*Statewide Plan for Independent Living)
Jenna Cyr is currently working for a wonderful agency in Northern Maine called St. John Valley Associates, where she works for adults with intellectual disabilities. She has been a DSP and a CRMA for almost 15 years. She is also Safety Care trained. She is a proud supporter of the Special Olympics. Jenna has one son, who is almost 8 years old, he was diagnosed with Autism when he was about 3 years old. Jenna and her family strongly believe in early intervention but has struggled for two years waiting for services for her little boy due to where we live. Jenna's main goal is to continue to be her kid's voice and to continue to find ways to promote early intervention and ways to be a voice for other families who are stuck on the waitlist in Northern Maine. Jenna and her family reside in Madawaska.
Kathryn Dobos is a parent to three young kids (5, 8, and 10 years old). Kathryn’s two youngest both have Autism. Kathryn is very passionate about connecting families with resources as well as each other and support. Kathryn looks forward to using her experience gained from a variety of organizations to serve on the ASM Board of Directors. Ms. Dobos resides in Readfield.
Isabel Douglas has been involved with Special Needs children and adults for over twenty years first as a parent and then as an educator. Homing in on Autism brought me in to a new world with my youngest son, now seventeen. For him, I learned a new life and social skills such as toileting, eating, turn taking, sharing and more. I was introduced to Raun Kaufmann when he visited Cambridge, England and I had my beliefs confirmed that my son could thrive given the right support and caring.
I learned PECS, Makaton, creating social stories amongst other things and fought for him to have Music Therapy- it took 18 months to get it, but it worked. Before coming to America, I taught children 2.5 -5 years old with diagnoses of Autism, Global, Angelmans, ADHD, amongst others. I also led observations of those suspected of an LD and on observation “discovered” the potential need for supporting them and others. In America I volunteered at a Title 1 school for 4 years, then worked as a Reading Specialist in Winslow for over 2 years, just last year I was an Ed Tech 3 then 4th grade teacher. All the while I was building on Academic, Social, and Life Skills including obtaining a Masters in Literacy Education and Maine Literary Specialist Certificate – both included Special Needs Education. It became very apparent how many children need support in their unique ways. Isabel and her family reside in Waterville.
Kristen King has an associate degree in Mental Health and Human Services and currently works for the State of Maine, Office of Behavioral Health. Kristen has been employed by the State of Maine since 2007 working for various Departments and offices within the Department of Health and Human Services. She has three sons, her youngest, Jaxson was recently diagnosed with Autism at age 2. She is a single mom, determined to learn as much as she can about Autism so she can be the best advocate not only her son but for other individuals as well. Kristen resides in Windsor.
Lisa Morgan has a master’s degree in the Art of Teaching in Special Education, she is a board-certified Autism Specialist and the founder and co-chair of the Autism and Suicide Committee of the Association of Suicidology. Lisa has authored three books: “Living Through Suicide Loss with an Autism Spectrum Disorder”, “Living with PTSD on the Autism Spectrum” and “Spectrum Women-Autism and Parenting” Lisa is a peer-reviewer of the journal “Autism in Adulthood and has also had several research papers published. Lisa is a member of the AASET Community Council and owns her own consulting business- Lisa Morgan Consulting, LLC. Lisa resides in Kittery with her four children.
Melissa is a licensed social worker for the largest health system in Central Maine. A 2004 graduate of the University of Maine at Augusta, Melissa earned her bachelor’s degree in Mental Health and Human Services. Melissa has worked in the advocacy and support of adults and children who are diagnosed with autism, intellectual disabilities, mental health disorders, and chronic medical needs. With over 20 years of experience in the field, Melissa has worked passionately to advocate for children and families who live with autism, educating parents to aid in meeting the needs of their children, and supporting those in the community to learn more about autism. Melissa is an ardent supporter for those in need, helping people make connections to what they need to promote a high quality of life. Melissa resides in Randolph.
Brigid Rankowski is currently finishing up her Master's Degree in Developmental Disabilities with an emphasis in Leadership/Advocacy from Nova Southeastern University. She is an international presenter on Autism, a published
author, an instructor for the Autism Speaks transitions online course, and an in home support worker. As a self-advocate, she spreads the message of positivity and Autism acceptance to everyone she meets. In her other life,
she is a fire spinner in the award winning vaudeville troupe Dark Follies. Brigid resides in Maine.
David Sharp is currently a special education teacher in Kennebunk serving elementary students with a wide scope of abilities. In 2012, He graduated from the USM ETEP Program and earned his master’s degree in Education with dual certification in Special and General Education. David is a certified Safety Care trainer and a certified Compassion Fatigue Professional. David has always enjoyed being active in his community and has served as a faith formation teacher at his church, has been a den leader and Cubmaster for the Cub Scouts and has helped coached his son’s sports teams.
David lives in Lyman along with his wife, two children and two cats. His son is on the Autism Spectrum and he and his wife have worked with his IEP team and outside counseling to ensure that we are doing the best we can for him.
Both at home and at school, David does the work he does because it has always come naturally to and feels that it is not really a job but a calling. He hopes to use his experience and passion to help make Maine a better place for those on the Autism Spectrum.
Jonathan (Jon) Youde
Jonathan Youde graduated from the University of Maine at Augusta and earned a Bachelors Degree in Public Administration. Since graduation has Jon has been employed by the Maine Municipal Bond Bank operating an energy purchasing program. Jon lives in Hallowell with his wife and is the parent of a young adult with Autism.