May Institute Celebrates 60 Years of Serving Individuals with Autism and Other Special Needs
—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.
Today, May Institute is an award-winning national nonprofit network that serves children and adults with ASD and other developmental disabilities, brain injury, mental illness, and behavioral health care needs at more than 160 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 1265 to nearly 1900, and expanded its programming to include service locations in 14 states. Today, the Institute provides evidence-based services to thousands 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), its Center for the Promotion of Evidence-based Practice, and spearheaded NAC’s dissemination of national standards for effective educational and behavioral interventions in the treatment of autism. 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. As NAC marks its 10th anniversary this year, it has released Phase 2 of its National Standards Project.
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 the special initiatives and events planned to celebrate its 60-year history, visit http://mayinstitute60years.org.
Highlights of May Institute’s 60 years include:
- 1955 Opens first school for children with autism in Chatham, Mass.
- 1978 Appoints Walter P. Christian, Ph.D., as Executive Director. Dr. Christian led the organization for 35 years, until his retirement in 2012.
- 1983 Partners with Children’s Hospital (Boston) in pioneering home-based early intervention services for children with autism and their families
- 1987 Opens homes for adults with disabilities as an alternative to institutional care
- 1988 Named one of the nation’s “Schools of Excellence” by the U.S. Department of Education
- 1992 Pioneers one of the nation’s first schools exclusively for children and adolescents with brain injury
- 1993 Establishes mental health services division
- 1994 Opens first early intervention program for young children in South Hadley, Mass.
- 1997 Featured in the book In Search of America’s Best Nonprofits (Jossey-Bass)
- 1998 Selected as state-wide specialty provider in Massachusetts for intensive early intervention specialty services
- 2000 Implements Positive Schools program in multiple urban school districts
- 2003 Opens new May Center School in West Springfield, Mass., for children with autism and other special needs
- 2004 Selected as the Northeast Regional Partner to the National Technical Assistance Center for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), a Center funded by the U.S. Department of Education
- 2004 Expands Florida residential services to include adults with developmental disabilities
- 2005 Receives the Outstanding Training Program Award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT)
- 2005 Founds the National Autism Center to support effective, evidence-based treatment approaches for autism
- 2005 Opens new May Center School for children with autism and other special needs in Woburn, Mass.
- 2005 Opens new state-of-the-art campus and May Center School for children with autism and other special needs in Randolph, Mass.
- 2006 Establishes West Coast division by welcoming The Bay School in Santa Cruz, Calif., as the newest May Center school for children with autism and other special needs
- 2007 Receives the Award for Enduring Programmatic Contributions in Behavior Analysis from the Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Analysis (SABA)
- 2007 Opens Southeast Regional Autism Center in Columbus, Ga., to serve Army families at Fort Benning and surrounding areas
- 2009 National Autism Center completes the National Standards Report - the most comprehensive analysis of treatments for ASD ever published
- 2009 Opens new autism center in North Carolina to serve military and civilian familiesNewest Day Habilitation program for adults with special needs opens in Massachusetts
- 2010 Opens new autism center in Tennessee to serve military and civilian familiesThe U.S. Government’s Combined Federal Campaign names May Institute as a beneficiary
- National Autism Center publishes manual for educators, "Evidence-Based Practice and Autism in the Schools"
- 2011 National Autism Center publishes autism manual for familiesOpens new autism center in Savannah, Ga., to serve military and civilian families
- 2012 May Center school in Randolph, Mass., opens the Todd Fournier Center for Employment, Training and Community Inclusion
- 2013 Appoints Dr. Lauren C. Solotar as President and Chief Executive OfficerOpens new autism centers in New Jersey and in the Washington D.C., area to serve military and civilian families
- 2014 Opens new autism center in Colorado to serve military and civilian families
- 2015 The National Autism Center completes the National Standards Project, Phase 2 - a new review of autism interventions across the lifespan