Developmental Disorders Program

Inpatient Hospital Services

Housed in our state-of-the-art treatment and recovery center, Spring Harbor Hospital's Developmental Disorders Unit 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 Unit is the only hospital program in Maine where children with a developmental disorder, such as autism or intellectual disability, can receive intensive treatment for aggression, self-injury, impairment in functioning, and mental health challenges.

Developmental Disorders Partial Hospital Program

Designed for youth and young adults with autism and other developmental disorders. Patients receive an intensive 5 day a week treatment where children and their families learn and practice new ways to manage emotions and behavior.

Outpatient Community Services

We offer outpatient services at the Center for Autism & Developmental Disorders in South Portland. At this location, Maine children, adolescents and their families can access comprehensive, coordinated treatment through an on-site clinic, day treatment program, primary care consultation and clinical research.
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Eligibility and How to Make a Referral

The hospital and partial hospital programs are designed for children ages 5 to 21 who have a developmental disorder, an active IEP (for inpatient), and cannot currently function safely outside the hospital or partial hospital setting. 

To make a referral, please call Kate Hallissey, LMSW at 207-661-6347.

Referral Form

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

  • 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 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

On the day of admission, parents and providers meet with the clinical team to discuss any follow-up questions or concerns. Treatment begins on day one. Families are asked to come in weekly to meet with either the social worker or the clinical team. Family involvement is very important to the successful treatment of the child.

As the child makes progress, his or her family is asked to come in and "shadow" the program's staff to learn the behavioral intervention. As families feel more comfortable, they are asked to "run" the behavioral intervention 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, social workers, occupational and speech therapists, as well as physical therapists, dietitians and special 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 acquire new skills and learn from their successes.

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

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 Positive Behavior Support 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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