Maine Behavioral Healthcare Receives Go-Ahead for State of the Art Autism Center
Maine Behavioral Healthcare, a Portland-based mental health services organization, was greenlit by the Planning Board this month to create a state-of-the-art, 28,000 square foot center providing services for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Known as the Center for Excellence in Autism and Developmental Disorders, the facility will “bring care to a whole new level,” according to Dr. Matthew Siegel, MBH’s vice president of Medical Affairs, Autism and Developmental Disorders Service. According to a report by Press Herald.com, Siegel explained that these services are crucial due to the fact that 1 in every 54 Maine residents are on the autism spectrum, including 6,000 who are public school students. While there are service providers for children with autism in the area, Siegel said there are not currently enough to meet the demand.
Hoping to remedy the problem, the new facility will feature classrooms for students from pre-kindergarten through high school, along with a gym, playground, and dental clinic, which will provide services to between 600 and 800 students a year. According to Siegel, the facility will also feature training opportunities for behavior analysts and speech pathologists.
“It’s been tremendous because people have really stepped forward,” Siegel was quoted as saying. “It is never easy to raise money, but people are coming out to say ‘this is badly needed’ and want to support us in many ways, including financially.”
Thus far, the organization has raised $5 million of the $7 million it needs to complete the facility. Siegel and Dennis Morelli, Maine Health’s director of design and construction, hope to start construction as soon as a building permit is issued by the city, with the project expected to be completed by summer 2021.