May 26, 2017

RSU14 Community Day highlights community resources by Elizabeth Richards

Ten local organizations that offer services and support for children and adults who have Autism and other developmental disabilities gathered at Windham High School on May 20, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. for the first RSU14 Community Day. 
RSU14 behavior consultant Julie Packard, who organized the event with the district’s Maine Autism Leader Team, said that the district has been working for the past couple of years on implementing evidence based practices for students with autism and developmental disabilities into their programs across the district.

 “Our goal is to improve our communication with parents and the community about evidence based interventions and about resources that are available in the community,” Packard said.  One way to do that was through a Community Day, where community organizations could present information to parents and community members about local resources that are available.

Attendance was light at the event, but Packard wasn’t discouraged. The first year is a learning experience, she said. The goal is to have the Community Day become an annual event.  The Maine Autism Leader Team will come together after the event to determine what worked and what could be changed, including what time of year and time of day is best for the event. participants said that despite the light attendance, they considered the event a success.  Molly Hardman, IEP Team Coordinator at Child Development Services, said, “It’s become a networking day where providers can network in order to connect families with resources.”
Pine Tree Society Marketing Coordinator, Lori Manson added, “The people who are here today are really interested. They stop to ask questions and gather resources. At larger events, they don’t always do that.”

The agencies provided information on a range of services available for individuals with autism, from early childhood through retirement. 

Agencies represented were: the Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, PSL Services STRIVE, Riding to the Top Therapeutic Riding Center, Pine Tree Society, Prudential, Child Development Services, Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research, Autism Society of Maine, Woodfords Family Services and Aqua-Theatre Aquarium Designs.

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