Autism and Intellectual Disability Research Team

Autism now strikes 1 in 88 American children. Over 2,300 children in Maine have been diagnosed with autism, and the challenges for these children, their families, and the state are vast.

A beacon of hope for these families exists at the Developmental Disorders Program of Spring Harbor Hospital. This inpatient program is the only regional treatment center for children with autism and co-occurring mental illness in Maine. Staffed by a team of experts, including a child psychiatrist, psychologist, speech and occupational therapists, social workers, nurses, special educators and others, the program draws children from the entire state of Maine and the region.

Our program is now leveraging our expertise by using our unique inpatient treatment setting to perform research and report our findings to the wider scientific community, for the benefit of patients and families beyond our reach.

Pediatric Autism Research Team

Led by principal investigator Matthew Siegel, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry of the Tufts University School of Medicine and faculty member of Maine Medical Center, the Pediatric Autism Research Team is an interdisciplinary effort drawing upon all the disciplines in our program. Our team is currently studying the impact of psychiatric co-morbidity and family engagement on child outcomes. We seek to better identify the key components of treatment, and engage in continuous performance improvement.

Future planned research projects include:

  • Studying the use of medication to target hyperactivity in children with autism.
  • Developing an evidence base for group social thinking interventions for high functioning children with autism.
  • Creating a reliable diagnostic process for identifying anxiety in children with autism.

Our highly-trained investigators' most precious resource is time, and your support provides the staff and infrastructure to maximize their efforts. We ask you to join us in building a premier research program for some of Maine's, and the nation's, most special children.

SPARK Study LogoNorthern New England SPARK Study

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. The Developmental Disorders program at Maine Behavioral Healthcare has been chosen as the Northern New England study site responsible for recruiting any person with autism, along with their family members, in Maine, New Hampshire or Vermont.

Participants can learn more and register for the study at:

The study coordinator, Laurie Raymond, is happy to talk with individuals, parents and providers about the study and can be reached at or 207-661-7620.

Click here to read the SPARK press release.

Autistic boy reading a book with a mentor

Center for Autism & Developmental Disorders

The CADD clinic offers Maine children, adolescents, and their families a single source of treatment and care with a multi-disciplinary outpatient clinic and an intensive day treatment program. Learn More

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