When May Institute was founded in 1955, very little was known about autism, and children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other special needs were often institutionalized for life.
The Institute’s founders, Dr. Jacques May and his wife, Marie Anne, had twin boys with autism and a vision of enabling their sons, and children like them, to lead the fullest lives possible. To achieve that goal, they opened a small school in Chatham, Mass.
Dr. and Mrs. May dedicated themselves to this 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.
Today, May Institute is an award-winning national nonprofit network that serves children and adults with ASD and other developmental disabilities, brain injury, and behavioral health care needs at more than 150 locations across the country.
“We have come a long way in the past 60 years, and are very pleased to be celebrating six decades of making progress possible for individuals of all ages with a variety of needs,” says May Institute President and CEO Lauren C. Solotar, Ph.D., ABPP. “Through the years, we have been tireless advocates for individuals with special needs, building high quality programs, schools, and community-based residences where they can achieve their highest potential.”
May Institute now operates five special education schools and provides early intervention, home-based, and school consultation services that meet the needs of hundreds of children on a daily basis across the country.
The organization also offers a full range of services for adults of all ages with developmental disabilities including day programs, vocational training, and community-based living. In addition, it operates a comprehensive diagnostic center as well as mental health clinics that provide services to children and adults with a range of behavioral health needs.
Since 1997, the Institute more than doubled in size, with annual revenues increasing from $42M to $103M. It has increased its staff from 1,265 to nearly 2,000, and expanded its programming to include service locations in 14 states. Today, the Institute provides evidence-based services to more than 6,000 of individuals and their families each year.
Over the past decade, May Institute opened 10 new Centers to serve both military and civilian families who have children with ASD and other developmental disabilities. “As we have with other underserved populations, we identified a pressing need for autism services in military communities and made the necessary operational decisions required to begin addressing that need,” says Dr. Solotar.
In addition to its leadership role in providing high quality clinical services, May Institute has also been instrumental in helping shape both perception and policy affecting individuals with special needs.
In 2005, the Institute established the National Autism Center (NAC) at May Institute, and spearheaded NAC’s dissemination of national standards for effective educational and behavioral interventions in the treatment of autism.
As NAC marked its 10th anniversary in 2015, it released Phase 2 of its National Standards Project. These standards represent the most comprehensive review ever completed, and have been downloaded from the Center’s website by individuals from every state in the U.S., as well as from more than 70 countries.
An active center of research and training, May Institute maintains affiliations with 50 universities, hospitals, and human service agencies worldwide. Staff members have authored hundreds of peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and books, and have delivered thousands of presentations to regional, national, and international audiences.
To learn more about May Institute and its 60th year celebrations, visit http://mayinstitute60years.org.
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
Dr. Jaques May
Marie Anne May