Developmental Disorders Program

Inpatient Hospital Services

Housed in our state-of-the-art treatment and recovery center, Spring Harbor Hospital's Developmental Disorders Program produces the highest quality treatment outcomes through a combination of expert programming, specially trained caregivers, and the individual potential of each patient.

The Developmental Disorders Program is the only hospital program in Maine where children with a developmental disorder, such as autism or mental retardation, can receive intensive treatment for aggression, self-injury, impairment in functioning, and mental health challenges.

Outpatient Community Services

We have outpatient services at the Center for Autism & Developmental Disorders (CADD) in nearby South Portland where we offer Maine children, adolescents and their families a single source of comprehensive, coordinated treatment through a clinic, day treatment program, primary care consultation, clinical research and specialized hospital services.

Help SPARK Autism Research

The Developmental Disorders program at Maine Behavioral Healthcare was recently chosen as the Northern New England clinical site for the largest autism study ever undertaken in the United States. Known at the SPARK study, the goal is to enroll 50,000 people in three years to collect information and DNA for genetic analyses to further explain the causes of autism.
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Eligibility and How to Make a Referral

The program is designed for children ages 5 to 21 who have a developmental disorder, an active IEP, and cannot currently function safely outside the hospital setting. 

To make a referral, please call the Admissions Department at 207-761-6644.
OR the Social Worker in the Developmental Disorders Program at 207-661-6333.

Referral Form

A referral packet will be mailed or faxed to the referral source and completed by whoever knows the patient best. Once the referral form is completed and returned to the Developmental Disorders Progam:

  • The referral is reviewed by the clinical team and determination is made if the child is eligible for treatment. At this time, there may be additional requests for records to help in the decision-making process. Decisions are typically made and communicated within 48 hours after the referral forms have been reviewed.
  • If a child has been accepted into the program and there are open beds available, an admission date is scheduled. If no beds are available, the child is placed on a wait list.

Evaluation and Assessment

Each child receives a comprehensive assessment to identify target behaviors and developmental challenges. The evaluation explores psychiatric, speech, occupational, medical, family, and environmental factors that may be contributing to the problem.

An individualized treatment plan is then developed to enhance each child's ability to function at the highest level. Progress is reviewed with families during bi-weekly meetings, and treatment strategies are adjusted to meet the changing needs and growth of each child.

What to Expect Once a Child is Admitted to the Program

Prior to admission, a questionnaire is sent to the parents of the child. This questionnaire provides insight about the child's daily functioning and behavioral needs and allows the clinical team to develop an individualized behavioral program for the child.

On the day of admission, parents and providers meet with the clinical team to discuss any follow-up questions or concerns. Families are asked to come in weekly to either meet with the social worker or the clinical team.

Treatment begins on day one. Family involvement is paramount to the successful treatment of the child. Families are asked to come in weekly to either meet with the social worker or the clinical team.

As the child makes progress, his or her family is asked to come in and "shadow" the program's staff to learn the behavioral program. As families feel more comfortable, they are asked to "run" the behavioral program with their child. This helps them build confidence so that they can continue to help their child outside of the hospital.

Treatment Team and Philosophy

The treatment team includes psychiatric, medical, and behavioral experts, occupational and speech therapists, as well as dieticians and educators. All services are delivered by professionals trained in the unique needs of children with developmental disorders.

At all times we carefully balance each child's need for support with independence. Children are given the opportunity and support to make good decisions and learn from their successes.

Family members are encouraged to be active participants in a child's treatment.

Spring Harbor Academy

Children in the program receive educational services from Spring Harbor Hospital Academy, a private, special-purpose school located at the hospital. Each student receives developmentally appropriate educational programming. The child's current Individual Education Plan (IEP) is followed, and ongoing educational needs are assessed through the IEP team process. Spring Harbor Academy also works with the child's home school to ensure a successful transition after leaving the hospital.

Discharge Planning

Preparing children to return to their lives outside the hospital is a primary focus from the day of admission. Social workers who specialize in this area work to secure placements in the community that will meet the needs of both the child and family. Through strong relationships with community providers and solid aftercare planning, our program helps reduce the likelihood that a child will need to return to the hospital.

At the time of discharge, families are given a binder that includes the behavioral plan, intervention tools, and a schedule to support a successful transition back home.

Dr. Matthew Siegel

What makes the Developmental Disorders Program successful?

Our success lies in the interdisciplinary work of our clinical team and staff. Together we tackle issues from a biological, behavioral, communicative, sensory, and family systems approach.

-Matthew Siegel, M.D., Medical Director, DD Program

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