May Institute

Our History

May Institute has its roots in a family’s vision of enabling children with autism and other disabilities to lead the fullest lives possible. Our first school for children with autism was founded on Cape Cod in 1955 by Dr. Jacques May and his wife, Marie Anne. Two of the school’s first students were the May’s twin boys. Little was known about autism at the time, and children with autism were typically institutionalized for life.

Dr. and Mrs. May dedicated themselves to creating a community-based school where they would advance the quality of care for these children, and countless others to follow. The Mays developed the foundation for our organization today.

Dr. Walter P. Christian – 35 Years of Leadership

Walter P. Christian, Ph.D., ABBP, ABPP, was at the helm of May Institute for 35 years – from 1978 until his retirement in December 0f 2012. During that time, the Institute has earned an international reputation for providing outstanding services to individuals with special needs.

When Dr. Christian joined the Institute in 1978, the organization consisted of one small school for 39 children with autism in Chatham, Mass. He went about systematically building an organizational and programmatic infrastructure that, in time, would be replicated first across Massachusetts and then throughout other parts of the country. He identified a mission for the organization based on three core components — service, training, and research.

An ardent defender of the rights of individuals with disabilities, Dr. Christian played a crucial role in deinstitutionalization in Massachusetts and throughout the country.

Today, May Institute is an award-winning network of 165 programs that provide educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services to nearly 9,000 individuals of all ages with autism and other developmental disabilities, brain injury, mental illness, and other behavioral healthcare needs.

Dr. Christian has dedicated his professional life to improving the quality of care for and promoting the rights of people with disabilities. His leadership exemplifies inspiration, integrity, and a life-long commitment to the empowerment of these individuals. He leaves a tremendous legacy, and we honor him upon his retirement.

Press release: Dr. Christian Honored by Boston Business Journal with Lifetime Achievement Award