Autism Society of Maine: Educating Communities and Supporting Families
Education, advocacy, support and public awareness form the cornerstones of the Autism Society of Maine’s (ASM) mission to promote lifelong access and opportunity for all individuals on the autism spectrum to become participating members of their communities. Over the past two years, ASM has partnered with NH-ME LEND trainees, Alan French and Deb Tardif, who collaborated with the organization’s education committee to formalize their training curriculum: “ASM: A Friend for Life.” These modules will be utilized by the ASM staff and autism information specialists who provide resource information to parents, guardians, schools, the work place, and the community to support individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
During April, National Autism Awareness Month (NAAM), ASM traditionally celebrates by providing educational resources, ASD facts and statistics, and opportunities for community engagement. With the arrival of COVID-19, they quickly shifted their energy to online support of families and responded to the outbreak by launching a dedicated Family Information Page compiling numerous links for prevention, State of Maine updates, and ideas to address the pressing needs of isolated families whose children experience ASD. Additionally, ASM is increasing their presence online with weekly Facebook Livestream sessions hosted by Executive Director Cathy Dionne. “Coffee and Conversation with Cathy” features special guests and experts who answer family questions on supporting behavior, anxiety, and meeting therapy needs in the home, by offering ideas and techniques that may help ease stress in the home during these challenging times.