Randolph, Mass.—Dr. Jacques and Mrs. Marie-Anne May were far ahead of their time when they founded May Institute in April of 1955 to provide a supportive environment and progressive treatment for their twin sons with autism. Back then, most individuals with special needs did not have access to effective community-based programs and services, and were institutionalized for life.
Since its founding, May Institute has evolved from one small Massachusetts school for children with autism into an award-winning national nonprofit network that provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral health services to thousands of children and adults throughout the country each year with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), brain injury, mental illness, and other special needs.
“I’m very proud of our long history and the fact that May Institute played an important role in de-institutionalization in the 1970s,” said President and CEO Walter P. Christian, Ph.D., ABPP, who has been at the helm of the Institute for the past 32 years. “We have advocated tirelessly for individuals with special needs, and built high quality programs, schools, and group homes to serve this population. In the 1980s, after building an excellent organizational and programmatic infrastructure here in Massachusetts, we began to successfully replicate our service model throughout the country. I believe we have far surpassed Jacques and Marie-Anne May’s vision by creating a national network of programs that is exceptional.”
Since 1997, the Institute more than doubled in size, with annual revenues increasing from $42M to $104M. It has increased its staff by more than 100 percent from 1,265 to 2,598, and expanded its programming to include service locations throughout New England, the Southeast, and on the West Coast. Today, the Institute provides evidence-based services to over 25,000 individuals and their families each year.
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. It provides comprehensive autism diagnostic services in several locations. The Institute also offers day programs, vocational training, and community-based living for adults of all ages with developmental disabilities. In addition, it operates mental health counseling centers, and runs five psychosocial clubhouses for individuals with severe and persistent psychiatric disorders.
Over the past three years, May Institute opened autism centers in Georgia and North Carolina to serve both military and civilian families who have children with ASD and other developmental disabilities. The Institute is now preparing to expand its services for military families to other states. “As we have with other underserved populations, we identified a pressing need for autism services in military communities and made the necessary financial and operational decisions required to begin addressing that need,” said Dr. Christian.
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.
Five years ago, the Institute established the National Autism Center, one of May Institute’s Centers of Excellence, and spearheaded its dissemination of national standards for effective educational and behavioral interventions in the treatment of autism. These standards represent the most comprehensive review ever done, and have been downloaded from the Center’s website by individuals from every state in the U.S., as well as from over 70 countries.
An active center of research and training, May Institute maintains affiliations with 55 universities, hospitals, and human service agencies. Since 1978, May professionals have published 340 books and articles, and have conducted more than 1700 presentations at national and regional conferences.
Highlights of May Institute’s 55 years include: