WESTBROOK, Maine — It can be challenging for parents who have children with autism or other developmental disabilities to find the resources they need. It's a problem that Maine Behavioral Healthcare is trying to solve.
NEWS CENTER Maine reported on the Center for Excellence about a year ago when it was under construction. Now, it's open and teaching children with developmental disabilities practical life skills.
After a capital campaign, the Glickman Lauder Center of Excellence is officially open and serves about 600 families across Maine.
"There's very few centers like this really in the country," Dr. Matthew Siegel at Maine Behavioral Healthcare said.
The center provides resources for young children and adults who may have aged out of other school programs.
Janice Walker works at the center. Walker also has a 21-year-old son who uses its services.
"When he was 2, and he was diagnosed, I made a silent promise to him that he would have a full and happy life," Walker said.
Walker added she's been able to keep that promise to her son, Ethan, because of the work with Maine Behavioral Healthcare even before the center opened.
"They've set him up to understand how to navigate the world," she said.
"All students learn at a different pace, and it's important to find. I think music and play and to really get to know each student individually and work with them and learn what they like, what they're interested in, what motivates them," Sarah Little, a teacher at the center, said.
The new space allows for the center to do even more. There is schooling but also life skills. Recently the University of New England dental students taught the kids what happens at the dentist. That way, they can know what to expect when they get their teeth cleaned.
"[What] this new building has been able to give us, more than anything, is the ability to work on those skills that are so important for families," Little said.
Families like Ethan's have seen firsthand what the right resources can do for a child with autism.