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Maine Behavioral Healthcare
  Spring Harbor Hospital News

Autism Speaks Awards $20,000 Grant to Spring Harbor Hospital Pilot Program

Autism Speaks has awarded $20,000 to Spring Harbor Hospital to support a one-year pilot program designed to help children with autism. The program will help patients in Spring Harbor’s Developmental Disorders Program transition back to the community after a hospitalization. 

“Community reintegration is a profound challenge for children with autism who have been hospitalized following an emotional or behavioral crisis,” stated Dr. Matthew Siegel, Director of the Developmental Disorders Program. “We seek to promote a child’s sustained success by enhancing resources within the community and increasing the skills of school staff.” 

In addition to providing training and support, the pilot program expects to reduce return visits to the hospital and the recurrence of crisis situations. 

Youth who are served by Spring Harbor’s Developmental Disorders Program typically exhibit severe behaviors, including aggression or self-injury, which impact their ability to attend school. Upon admission, the program’s clinical team works collaboratively to develop a treatment plan that is specifically designed for each patient. This includes an Individualized Education Program (IEP) through Spring Harbor Academy, the onsite educational program for patients of the hospital. 

“This multi-disciplinary approach has resulted in a high success rate in helping children stabilize and return to their homes and schools with renewed potential,” Siegel explains. 

Through the pilot program, a clinician who assisted the youth during his/her hospitalization will travel to the receiving school and assess the learning needs of the educational staff and oversee integration of the child’s treatment plan into the educational setting. 

In addition to Dr. Siegel, the transition program will be staffed by Lori Coffin, M.Ed., a speech and language pathologist, as the primary transition clinician, and Bruce Chemelski, Ph.D., Clinical Director of Spring Harbor Academy, who will facilitate transition services in the receiving schools. 

As one of eleven hospitals in the United States with specialized units serving those with developmental disorders, Spring Harbor is uniquely positioned to conduct research and pilot programs such as this. 

“I am particularly proud of our Development Disorders Program,” says Spring Harbor CEO, Dennis King. “We are committed to providing people in mental health crisis high-quality, treatment using the most effective evidenced-based methods available. This pilot program fits perfectly within our mission.”

 Autism Speaks is a leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Additional information can be found at


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